I have a bit of a contrary relationship with technology. I do enjoy using my phone and staying connected to friends and family online--- and I conduct a majority of my art business through the miracle of the internet. However.
There are often times when I feel like what I need most is a break from being so connected--- where I feel like my mood and my time are being sucked into this online world and I need to literally disconnect, be outside, take things slow, enjoy peace and quiet that only nature can give. More often than not, its the perfect tonic for what ails.
That's why I was so intrigued by the concept behind the book "Life From Our Land" by Marcus Grodi-- a book about shifting away from frantic business and material progress to a more nature centered and God centered existence.
What I liked so much about Grodi's book is that it is geared toward everyone--- you dont need to be living on a homestead of rural bucolic acreage to relate. His meditations revolve around our relationship with God andstewardship of the Earth, our responsibility to nature and to each other, of not trying to subdue our surroundings, but live in harmony with them. Things that can be done no matter how large or small a patch of earth you live on!
"There are many things that being created in God's image means," Grodi writes. "One is particular is that we are to be like Him and act like Him. Mankind has been created to have 'dominion' over this world, and because we have been created in God's image this means a dominion of love, humility, and selfless giving. Likewise, this is how we are to carry out our responsibility to 'subdue the Earth.' The way God loves, cares and provides for all creation is to be our model."
Grodi also points us towards meditations on nature as a salve for our mixed up priorities, to ease our anxieties and keep our perspective. Which is, as Grodi admits, hard to do in a culture insistent on being constantly connected, constantly over-scheduled, and constantly in cars, in cubicles and indoors.
"Life From Our Land" is one of those interesting books that can be read cover to cover, or in isolated chapters, depending on the issues that are tugging on your heart at the moment. A bit of a memoir, a bit of a farmer's advice column and a lot of Biblical Roman Catholic musing, this book can be approached in many different ways.
I personally enjoyed reading it in small pieces as there is so much information to meditate on, often with accompanying scripture, that there is something to deeply ponder in nearly every paragraph.
Grodi, as you may know, is a founder of The Coming Home Network and hosts a series called "The Journey Home" on EWTN about people joining the Catholic Church. So it should come as no surprise to see that Grodi's deep Catholic faith is very evident within this book.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a connection to nature founded in spiritual, specifically Christian, practice and philosophy. If the ideas of faith inspired stewardship, connection to the real world, and preservation are important to you, then this must be just the book you're looking for.
Because there are many 'back to the land' books out there, but very few take a stance on this lifestyle is a spiritual way. That said, as someone who lives in a town well within city limits and no farm to my name--- there is plenty I can still get out of Grodi's story. Because, ultimately, no matter who and where we are--- we are all connected to nature-- life from our land. How we live within it, shape it and let it shape us--- is dependent entirely upon us.
What are some ways you like to get in touch with nature? Or how has your faith been shaped by your experience in the natural world? Let's chat in the comments!
And if you'd like to get your own copy of this book, it is available through Ignatius Press, Amazon, and other book retailers.