People of the Land

Recently, I attended a church event on the far eastern plains of Colorado. Two and a half hours' drive from the Denver metro area, this place seemed at first not much more than a barren, windswept wasteland. Pancake-flat, the horizon seemed to stretch out endlessly in every direction. Without the Front Range to my west, I felt lost and disoriented.

Life seems simpler--and yet more challenging--out on the plains. Those at our meeting were farmers or otherwise tied to the land; they spoke of feeling cut off in many ways from the urban areas to their west. And one person's comment about the weather really stayed with me: "Yeah, that recent thunderstorm! The hail took out a hundred acres of my crops." Wow.

These are people of the land; people who work the land and whose livelihoods are wrapped up in the largely unpredictable patterns of weather and climate. Simpler folk, perhaps; but their humility, persistence, and patience stuck with me.

We city folk go a mile a minute. Our lives zip along at the speed of the Internet. Our livelihoods are tied up in the economy; but we're not at the mercy of the latest hailstorm, tornado, or drought. Too easily we can feel ourselves masters of our own destiny. Too easily we can forget our contingency on things beyond our control--as well as our need for God's grace at every turn. A certain subtle hubris sets in.

The people of the land I met seemed more humble, more (dare I say it) down to earth. It would've been easy for me to dismiss them as country bumpkins. I'm glad I didn't. I think I (and perhaps we) have much to learn from them.