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Let the Land Teach Us
  About Healing and Creativity 

Sr. Joyce Rupp, OSM
Page 4

 

   Sometimes our boxed-in views and ideas crowd out creativity and new life because we cling too tightly to our part experiences and certainties. When I was living in a Benedictine retreat center in Colorado, the Sisters there had started raising llamas on their farm. Mama llama was pregnant. I had never seen a pregnant llama before so I couldn't wait for this llama to have her baby. I presumed the process would be like every other farm animal I had known. Everyday I'd look and wonder if the baby had come yet. One day I was walking across the yard as I went over to the abbey and, lo, there I saw the baby llama! I was disappointed that I had missed the birth, thinking, "Why didn't anybody tell me this llama was born?" I looked at the baby in wonder. She was just beautiful, standing there in her dry, pure white coat.  
   I walked to the abbey and said to one of the Sisters, "Wow! When was Baby Llama born?" They said, "What baby llama?!" and all went out to see. I learned then that the llama had been born very shortly before I saw it. What I didn't know was that llamas have an instinct to get up and run with the herd right away so they are ready to move within minutes after birth. I laughed all day, thinking how I had waited and waited for this birth to happen and when it did happen, I did not recognize it. That's a lot like life. At first we don't know what is changing for us; then when it is happening, we often don't trust that it is happening because we are so set on our own idea of how it should be.

(Continued at top of next column.)

 

     Along with staying open to how the future might unfold, rural Americans need to constantly remind themselves and one another of their inner strength. In The Art of Resiliency, Carol Osborn encourages her readers to never doubt their inner ability to overcome great obstacles. In a 1999 interview she described resilience as "the ability to get through, get over, and thrive after trauma, traits and tribulations… Resilience means that we can be challenged and not break down."

 
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     "May these illustrations ... serve to nourish hope and courage in difficult times."         --Darrel Nelson, artist
 

    Rural America needs resilience now more than ever. Those who are struggling cannot give up even though the situation may look bleak. Again we can learn from the land's resiliency. I remember being at Mt. St. Helen the first year after that volcano blew, destroying everything alive in its path of hot ash. I was astounded to see beautiful red fireweed already growing among the ashes. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was amazed that something so alive had come out of something so dead.

   As Rural America looks to its enduring people and the beauty of the land let us all heed these words in Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard deChardin:

"God is at work within life; God helps it, raises it up, gives it the impulse that drives it along, gives it the appetite that attracts it, the growth that transforms it. I can feel God, touch God, live God, in a deep, biological current that runs through my soul and carries it with it. The deeper I descend into myself, the more I find God at the heart of my being."

God is with us and is guiding us. God has given us the land, not only for producing abundant food but also as a source of hope. The land is our teacher. Let us be attentive to what is happening within us and around us. Let us be aware of the land's teachings about transformation. There is an elixir, a gift, for rural America beyond the current struggle and pain. We will discover what this is if we let the land teach us.

                     -- Joyce Rupp

"Let the Land Teach Us"      Page 1   Page 2   Page 3  or   Page 4

     76th Anniversary and Annual Meeting Keynote Speech for the November 1999 National Catholic Rural Life Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Reprinted with permission from the Catholic Rural Life, Volume 42, Number 2, Spring 2000. Sr. Joyce Rupp, OSM. "Let the Land Teach Us," pp. 12-16. Contact Br. David G. Andrews for permission to reproduce.  All illustrations in this article were draw by Darrel Nelson.  Catholic Rural Life is the publication of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50310, ncrlc@aol.com, www.ncrlc.com.


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