Archive for November, 2013

November 9, 2013

Build the Universe

by Cynthia

On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God-

a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope

It will always be like this,

each of us going on

In our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

Mary Oliver


We are all building the universe, one grain, one life, one moment at a time.  Frederick Buechner’s famous line, “all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace” came to mind for me last Sunday morning. I was sweeping the front porch when I noticed  fog gathering in the cedar trees below the yard. As I stopped my sweeping and stood to breathe in the moist autumn air, the fog enveloped the house and I was inside the cloud, cool and damp and mysterious.  It was one of those key moments, one that reminds me how insignificant my pedestrian troubles are compared to the unknowable beauty and chaos of the universe. I am building my little world, my one grain at a time, and it is easy to think my efforts don’t really matter.

When Tim and I look at the money we spend on feed, equipment, seed, trailers, tractors, trucks and bailers, it is quickly evident that the life we are building is not a moneymaker. We have opted to live in the country, grow our own food, raise and sell a few animals, and sit on the porch and do things like watch the fog roll in.  Those of us who are privileged enough to choose what to eat and when, where to live and what to do with our “free time” have a responsibility to be deliberate, to think about how our choices affect our community.Those choices may be small ones (Do I buy the pineapple in the grocery even though I know it was trucked thousands of miles?) or bigger ones ( Do I drive the gas guzzler and throw my plastic bottles in the trash?) The choices can get wearisome when you are trying to be a good steward of the environment. Do we stop at McDonald’s? Do I buy the cheaper meat? Do I eat meat at all?   Am I wasting water, or paper, or energy?  Does it really matter?

Whether or not we are near the tipping point on climate change, we are building the universe, and the universe is getting dirty and crowded. What we do does matter. Each plant we grow in our garden, each carton we recycle, each time we pass up that pineapple in the grocery store and buy an apple from the farmer’s market instead we are moving our tiny grain of sand in the right direction.

Build the universe.