The great dust bowl of the 1930s devastated the life of farm families on the Canadian prairies. The depression years were innovative times, for survival, i.e., frocks were made from the cloth of flour bags. The Eaton's catalogue served as ersatz shin pads for prospective hockey stars. The farms and the farm family way of life changed, forever. Corporate farming replaced the old ways. Dust and ashes! Is that good or bad?
Today, swaths of wild forests burn uncontrolled. Ashes are what’s left of ranches, farms and homes. There are smaller rural communities which are no more. Community life may be changed forever. What arises from the ashes?
Although it wasn’t too glamourous, a farm boy of the depression days had a good life. He did chores. He looked after the old horse. He attended the one room school. He found time to play ball in the summer and hockey in the winter. He also eventually became educated with a degree in theology, was ordained a priest, and in time was consecrated a bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada. In his book, How We Got Here From There: a true story of dumb luck and love, Bishop Ken Genge reminds us of past times and the changing future. (Anyone interested in acquiring a copy of this self-published book please send me an email request).
Times and conditions, social and community shapes, and economic ups and downs, create distinct periods of time and life. From the dust and ashes comes the newness of today. Good or bad!
Currently in India, farmers by the thousands are facing disastrous conditions. In the midst of a world-wide pandemic, these farmers are also facing a political stand-off. The government has passed laws that change the way the price of farm products will be decided. The government's old system of setting a minimum price is gone. Farmers had been able to make a living, feed and care for their families, and feed the nation. The new regulations threaten that way of life. More dust and ashes?
Peaceful protesters, thousands of farmers, are sitting on the highway, bringing attention to the destruction of a way of life. Corporate big businesses have been given the authority to control production and the economy of farming in India. Farmers fear being turned into modern day serfs. "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes!"
Around the world, people are standing in solidarity with the Indian farmers. Their rallying cry is "No Farms, No Food, No Future." In Abbotsford, BC, a city located on the fertile lands of the Fraser Valley, these men and women gather to keep the watch, and walk the way, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. I often join them, the token person of Northern European ancestry and Christian leader.
It is my opinion that lessons from the past that have shaped the outcome of human conditions for the future need our attention today. Ways of life do matter. Causes of justice and peace do count. Ordinary people do make a difference.
Whether it is climate change on a global scale, reconciliation much needed in our nation, or the right to sustain a family, we all need to be aware today.
"Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom." (James 3:13b)
Out of the dust and ashes comes the energy, the goodness, the wealth of the good life for all people. In God's Creation we are to live into the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let's do that!