Farming and Peace
By Hector Black

When we try to visualize peace, a peaceful life, often the image of farming comes to mind. The cows peacefully slowly chewing their cud, the restful fields and gentle hills. Trees. Plants. Green.

Green is a peaceful color by itself. It awakens memories of peace. So does blue - and in the country there are countless times to contemplate the blue sky. Yes, there are storms and tempests, but they end. It's not like the ceaseless traffic flow in Manhattan. The impatient sounds of car horns honking hardly compares with the honking of geese as they fly south and north on their bi-annual journeys. Nothing impatient about geese. They don't rush about.

And there is rain, usually falling gently to the waiting ground, splashing from the leaves, quiet sound. Crashing thunder sometimes, and heavy winds, but followed by rainbows and glorious sunsets. No gutters filled with trash and filthy water.

Stress? Well there is the pressure to bring in the harvest when it is ripe, when rain threatens. Things such as this are the pressures of the field. You work longer some days. But gathering in the harvest, or planting seeds, working the soil is gentle work. Plants grow slowly. Patience is there. And it can rub off on you. I planted pecan nuts that now are bearing 14 years later. Some trees take longer than that. You can't argue with them and say "Get a move on there, I can't wait all day!" You wait years and care for them in the meantime. Patience and Peace are related. We need patience with one another. If we had patience and took time to talk things through instead of blowing people and their houses off the map, the world would be better.

Anger? Well, as I say, it doesn't make much sense to get angry with a plant or a tree. Now pulling weeds and hoeing may seem angry work, but I find myself drawn to pulling weeds when something is on my mind. There is considerable release in just silently going down a row and removing the plants that are in the wrong place. I'm not mad at them. They're just misplaced, so I compost them and turn them back into the soil which all us living things came from. We complete the cycle on the farm, returning things to the earth that we have taken from her to sustain ourselves. I find peace in knowing that my body will return to this earth that has sustained me for 83 years.

Hector Black of Cookeville's Hidden Springs Farm, has spent his life farming and devoting his life working for peace and social justice. He was featured earlier this year on NPR's Story Corps, "Father Finds Peace in Forgiveness", where he shares the story of the 2001 murder of his daughter. The portrayal captures the powerful nature of his gentle soul and faithful spirit.