Six o'clock came and went, like the swift spatter of summer rain that swept across our farm this afternoon. There were no little piles of clothing dotting the landscape, unless you count the shirt and stocking blown off the clothesline. We were left behind, it seems, by the latest in a long line of apocalyptic billboard-buying End Times trumpeters. The Rapture did not happen here. It did not include anyone we knew. It did not include us.
And yet...we did share the experience. While there was no packing of picnic baskets or precarious perching on rooftops, we did prepare ourselves for something glorious, something potentially life-changing: another day on the farm.
There are ritual elements even here. We go down on our knees regularly. Who's to say if there's a difference between planting a seed, gathering a freshly-laid egg, or offering a prayer? We fill the cup--or the trough--for each blessed creature. We break bread and scatter it for a flock, and who's to say our chickens are any less worthy of the sacrament of communion? In this place, communion is something we celebrate every day, as the creatures of the earth are tended and fruits of the earth are gathered in to be prepared for our shared table.
Today, we shared the day's work joyfully. Our first official WWOOFer contributed to our lifted spirits considerably. ("WWOOF" stands for "Willing Workers On Organic Farms" or "World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms." Traveling volunteers trade work for room, board, and agricultural education.) With her enthusiasm and our combined energy and effort, we plowed through a formidable list with light hearts and earnest determination. Our shared laughter rose like a hymn to all that is good and right in the world: communion, indeed.
"Prayer," says Parker Palmer, "is the practice of relatedness." Four days of wet weather have quieted and slowed the urgent growth and activity of this season, and we've been keenly aware of that relatedness- keenly aware of just how many lives rely on the return of the sun. When, early this afternoon, the clouds finally dispersed, we celebrated the sudden surge of activity. We reveled in the preening of poultry, the opening of damp blossoms, the exodus of hungry honeybees. The cattle lifted their shaggy wet heads in the pasture. Muddy ground firmed up and soil temperatures warmed, awakening plump, well-watered seeds.
We are ready for the rapture--not because we are waiting for it to happen, but because we discover it unfolding, continually, all around us. We are enraptured by the revelation that we have NOT been taken. We are Left Behind to attend to the holiness with which the tattered, beautiful world is already imbued.
We are called--it is our vocation--to remain in this richly challenging place and serve as stewards of its goodly gifts. There is no greater embodiment of grace.