My friend, Dick Meyer, leaned back in the rocking chair and got a faraway look in his eye. Dick had been raised on a farm in Washington. Then he ran a successful landscape business in Hawaii and presently he runs “My Little Farm,” a five acre micro-enterprise in Santa Rosa. He has never been known as a romantic poet type. He possesses that hardscrabbled demeanor of a grower who knows you put your best effort into the land and then wait patiently for the yield. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes not. His words often are hedged with the same timbre.
But I had posed a question to him. “Tell me what it means to be waiting for bud break in vineyard management,” I asked. The occasion generated a fifteen minute soliloquy the likes of which I have never heard in our twenty year friendship. A poetic, reflective summary of one of nature’s greatest cyles of stark bareness giving way to potential fruitfulness. He articulated the care with which the farmer prunes, chooses and incises to promote growth. Then he said something profound. “The grower then hopes that God and nature will do what no farmer can do, make something better than ever.”
When it comes to this time of the year our sense of peace and “goodwill toward men” will ultimately fall on one of two outlooks. Either people can capture a sense of what constitutes the ‘best practice’ of peace and reduplicate it until it is realized or there will be a general belief that our measly efforts will fall hopelessly short of any desirable harmony and communalism. In that case we must decide if there remains a better sense of evidence that something else can occur.
My sense of faith, hope and peace rests firmly in the second camp. While I remain a staunch supporter of encouraging the best practice of peace, that is exactly what it is…practice. The best evidence is found in the message of hope and peace that comes from Jesus’ entry into the world. Frankly, I want to know the peace that comes from a baby being born by God into a malevolent world, a young man raised from the dead after being crucified for preaching about love, and a movement of followers, faulty as we are, carrying on a message of peace. I want to know a God who is not threatened by our egregious self-interest but who calmly, regally leads the world toward a peaceful outcome while many assassinate his character.
The best evidence for peace, like vines budding, is that God is doing something better than ever.
Merry Christmas everyone.