Life Lessons in Work, Prayer and Dirt
By Kyle T. Kramer
“With deep, sustained attention to the world, it is impossible not to feel awed by it, grateful for its many gifts, moved by the suffering with which it is rife, and, in all of this, aware of our marvelous belonging to it — even as we prepare for a yet fuller belonging in the world to come,” says Kyle T. Kramer, whose call to leave his work in an inner city parish in Atlanta to farm a plot of land near his parents’ Indiana home is the basis for this moving and profound story. Seeking an enduring sense of belonging to a people and a place, Kramer embarked upon a life of voluntary simplicity based on values far more solid than wealth, achievement, appearances, and social status. In following his call to live with “soul, head, and hands fully engaged,” he found that “true spiritual practice brings you closer to the tangible world, rather than farther from it.”
Kramer takes us into his day-to-day life as he struggles to transform his ruined, rocky acreage into a sustainable, productive farm that will be a home for him and the family he hopes one day to have. Totally inexperienced, he is helped by neighboring farmers and learns from his rural community that “we are made to need — and to serve — each other.”
At first thinking that he had “chosen the land,” he came to see that in some way, the land also had chosen him. And his “journey in place” to make a home in the world also led to his finding a spiritual home in the Catholic Church. “In some sense, finally becoming Catholic was yet another homecoming, of a piece with settling on the farm,” he says. “In a place far deeper than my mind, I felt that I had finally found home.”
Kramer’s quest to build himself a place that he could call home, both on the land and in the community of faith, details the gritty work of tilling the soil as well as the author’s luminous encounters with the divine, as revealed in the simple things of life. Farming and construction work as meditation? Kramer shows us that it can be done.