“It could be said that God’s foot is so vast
that the entire earth is but a
field on God’s toe,
and all the forests in this world
came from the same root of just
a single hair
of the Holy.
What then is not sanctuary?
Where then can I not kneel
and pray at a shrine
made holy by God’s
~St. Catherine of Siena
During my Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market this week, I had a realization that filled me with awe and humility. As I walked the rows of colorful flowers and fragrant herbs, I had this overwhelming feeling of connection with both those who sold their wares and those, like me, who were doing the shopping. As I handed my money to the beautiful Hmong woman whose head was wrapped in a brilliant blue and red patterned scarf and she, in turn, handed me my rhubarb, I knew we were in this thing together. I listened to the laughter of the tall, blond farmer, dressed in bibbed overalls as if in costume, selling honey and humor. As his voice washed over me, I had the full bodied sense that we were all in cahoots with one another in this journey called life. I looked at my fellow shoppers and saw, not strangers, but family caring for the very basic need of all creatures. The need to eat.
Now this may seem to some a lot to hang on the simple act of shopping at the farmer’s market. But it was truly one of those full bodied realizations that comes to us every now and then. One of those feelings of recognition that we are a small part of a much larger, intricate and beautiful whole. I thought of the work that these farmers had done on our behalf. The planning, the planting, the watering, the weeding, the watching and the eventual harvesting. All the shoppers were there to reap the rewards of the work of others. And while money was exchanged for services rendered, it seemed much more than that.
It was a reminder to me of all those who labor so my life, and yours, may be lived. All those who work unseen to make sure my lights turn on when I flip a switch and the heat goes on when I press a button. All those who drive trucks and trains and planes to bring other goods for my use and consumption. It is staggering when you think about it. All the lives that are attached to ours through their work. It is a fact that could humble us if we let it.
The truth is we are all in cahoots to live this life. We can move through the world acting as if we are independent and self sufficient but the reality is that very few, if any, can live our lives without the work and toil of others. The very idea fills me with such a deep sense of gratitude and joy and humility. It becomes, for me, an image of this huge family that travels with me wherever I go. We are kin of the living kind, depending on one another, looking out for one another, supporting one another, always full of the realization that when one rejoices we all rejoice and when one grieves we all grieve.
At the farmer’s market I was happy to look across the sea of faces and notice how different we all looked. Different body shapes, a myriad of skin colors, some old and wrinkled and others new to the world, and yet all kin. All joined together for that moment in the pursuit of good food. Food offered to us by hands that had known the soil that would feed us all. In that moment it seemed to me not only an act of Creation but also an act of communion.
Thanks be to God.