Plainsong Farm started as a dream in the early 2000’s. Even in those days, before anyone expected the permafrost to melt so quickly, it seemed evident that we needed a place for human beings to worship God in Creation and find our place again in the family of things.
We didn’t need another church; there are plenty of good churches. We needed a place for people to remember – and maybe to discover – what it means to live in God’s world. We belong to a system that we did not create: sun and rain and soil provide us food. We are meant to provide earth care. The story of our place in Creation is as old as the book of Genesis, but I for one am still trying to figure out how to live that way.
This weekend Plainsong Farm will hold our first Blessing the Fields service. It’s an ancient practice to walk the boundary of the land and pray for the well-being of the crops. We’ll follow the cross as we go and share holy communion at the end. It’s a new, working farm, so you’re getting the authentic experience. By which I mean: don’t expect a highly manicured property; expect a farm that looks like one.
It’s a funny thing to plan a service you’ve never attended. There are no longer Rogation Sunday services in the Episcopal Church in western Michigan, or in any other branch of the faith that I know – if there were, I would have gone to one a long time ago. But since there aren’t any, I couldn’t. That meant planning this service has involved prayer, research and help from far-flung friends.
I imagine it’s a little like finding an old recipe for a dish you’ve never tasted. The instructions are there, and you can gather up the ingredients, but how will you know if you’ve gotten it right? I guess, if it tastes good?
So please pray that our Blessing the Fields tastes good – that it is fitting to the place, the people, and the story that is meant to shape our lives: the story of God come to us in Jesus to set all things right.
And please come join us if you can. All are welcome. If you just want to do Blessing the Fields, wear sturdy shoes. We’ll start at 4(ish) and be done with worship well before 5. Bonus: you’ll get a good walk. If you want to stay and join us for potluck, please bring some food, a place setting, and a chair. We’ll have food and forks and knives and chairs too, but since we’ve never done exactly this before, it would definitely help.
This week it became evident to me that we are not alone in this journey of remembering as I stood in the wheat field at Bishop’s Ranch in California. (Now that is a highly manicured property! I confess to the sin of envy.)
I had gone there as part of the Episcopal Church’s Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation.
The wheat field wasn’t on our official agenda (more’s the pity – although our meetings were super long even without it!) but I knew it was on the property, and so I scouted it out. I was so excited I made my first Facebook Live video.
The last thing we did at Bishop’s Ranch was share in communion with bread made from the wheat from that field. It was an amazing chance to taste the holiness of the ground on which I stood. And it was a moment of awareness that – as Honore Farm and Mill founder Elizabeth DeRuff writes – greater intentionality about our communion bread could be a wake-up call to the church to care for creation in an era of climate change.
We’re working on a wheat project ourselves. Tomorrow we’ll bless the ground set aside for it. Maybe next year Blessing the Fields can conclude with communion bread made from the fruits of our own ground.
I dream of a church which knows the place where it dwells, and commits itself to tend it. I dream of Plainsong Farm being a gathering center where many churches can discover the beauty of their place, and wake up to our place in Creation.
If you can’t be with us tomorrow, know that you and all Creation will be in our prayers. Please pray for us as well, as we seek to make a place that tastes good – and is good – for all.