Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Driving country roads

My eyes take snapshots in fast motion, but this is my slow, silent time with farms and seasons. Straight country roads with snug box houses and farms with barns out of which horses step. The greatness of the flat land and its spiky grains, sifted into silos and cribs. Wind chasing tails, tassels and stalks, dry and lisping. Trees standing alone in the corn, trees laced at the arms united as one against the next field. Sky over all hilled with clouds. I drive and ponder what all this represents, and what the paved road changed after the dirt road of 100 years past. How the corn is raised for cows or fuel, and the cows for milk and meat. How even this simple commerce is not simple or easy (many remain hungry, genetically modified seeds cause havoc) but is contentious, complicated and passes like clouds along the sky in various shapes and speeds.

At evening a farmer in a huge, heavy combine cuts soybeans, dust fountained and illuminated. The great earth bends to his will.

Some wind blows and we fall along with it or plow against it. Every inch of terrain is chosen. Progress or regress. We do not stand still. We never stand still. Even in silence, we choose.

But Rumi says,

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, Language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.


  1. I'm reminded of Robert Frost.
    I see the fields in a different way than Rumi would, when fields were naturally giving and not giving, all in concert with wind and rain and sun. Now, we are forcing them to give, to produce more than they are given, and with that, we are forced to change our expectations of what field is.

    Your contemplation touches on this, the splendor and beauty, and the utility of commerce that is superimposed on that splendor.

    1. I hear you, Rosaria. I am frustrated to the extreme by the powers that be continuing to push the land for commerce's sake, even while they and their families demand organic food!

      But somehow I still hold, with Rumi, that there is power and hope beyond all of these frustrations that calls to us, toward brother and sisterhood, toward the community of shared ideas, not enmity. I wonder if we have really changed all that much since Rumi's time?

  2. A stunning meditation on countryside. So easily sentimentalized --but not here.
    Farming has always been a business --but not as scary as current 'agri-business'.
    Yet such beauty in nature. I'm babbling. I'm looking forward to seeing the English countryside very soon.

    1. Babble on, Elizabeth-brook. And England! On the road yesterday I saw a beautiful, beautiful hill, a cultivated field, autumnal trees. And smack in the middle of it a "McMansion" growing out of it like an ugly toenail. Talk about gilding the lily. And I thought, in England they don't allow this. No new structures built on the countryside between villages, unless it conforms to a strict code (of the ages), or so I've heard. And I longed for that code.

  3. rumi makes sense of our fields even if - encased in our dualistic reality - we are unable.

    you speak of cycles here, and how, even in our silence, we choose. your sky (hilled with clouds - gorgeous image) remains silent, too, neither praising the hardworking farmer nor damning the gmo's. all is allowed, progress and regress.

    i've long pondered what it would be like to meet in the field of which rumi speaks. beyond.

    1. Amanda, yes, no judgment. Yet it is important to recognize and acknowledge the way things are.

      I read this today:

      ‎I see the mountains in the sky; the great clouds; and the moon; I have a great and astonishing sense of something there, which is “it”—it is not exactly beauty that I mean. It is that the thing is in itself enough: satisfactory, achieved. A sense of my own strangeness, walking on the earth is there too: of the infinite oddity of the human position; with the moon up there and those mountain clouds. Who am I, what am I, and so on: these questions are always floating about in me.

      —Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated February 27, 1926.

      Bless you and your ponderings.

  4. The Bright Field

    I have seen the sun break through
    to illuminate a small field
    for a while, and gone my way
    and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
    of great price, the one field that had
    treasure in it. I realize now
    that I must give all that I have
    to possess it. Life is not hurrying

    on to a receding future, nor hankering after
    an imagined past. It is the turning
    aside like Moses to the miracle
    of the lit bush, to a brightness
    that seemed as transitory as your youth
    once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

    R.S. Thomas

    1. Robert, this poem you share has moved me all these days. May we take our moments of regret and turn to them like this, for illumination. To notice every thing, especially when the moment shines a light upon it and its essence. The Bright Field. It's tremendous.

      "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present." (Babatunde Olatunji)

  5. This is a beautiful meditation at this time of harvest...but I find myself yearning for Rumi's field:)

    1. Gail, it's such a gorgeous time. I love the fields in their dryness.

      And I think there's no time like a presidential campaign for making me long for Rumi's field. :-)

  6. We do not stand still. We never stand still.

    i think about perspective and i wonder how much work are we really doing? i think if we were able to withdraw from time and space and consider humankind, perhaps we have done little more than risen like corn, stood for a season, and then fallen. but on close inspection we seem so busy.

    your language in this prose is so carefully chosen. i see you here being absolutely mindful.

    i try to understand what rumi is saying and i have to let go of the words and instead address my own yearning to be in a field. as i have been awakening in the last few years this yearning in particular has been very real. there is a healing that takes place in a field. is it because of the reduction? is it because of the connection to the earth? is it because we need the stillness inside of all of our commotion?

    i will drive past these same fields tomorrow. i will die with longing to be that which i can never be, the corn.)))


    1. Erin, if i withdraw from time and space as i have asked...i am the corn.

      !! I have found corn to be the answer to so many problems! It stands there, quiet and still. It stands there! As if observant, listening, slow. In no hurry!

      Yes nature calls us for all those reasons you listed, I think.

      I read in Parabola this morning:

      Trebbe Johnson: My first experiences were in backyards. My backyards were these magical realms. I had several of them and each one made a different kind of magic. There was one in Springfield, Illinois, in a new housing development, and there was a field behind our house. I was six seven. I remember lying in that late field one afternoon in the fall, and it came to me that if I could stare at the sky until daytime turned into night-time that I would know something about God. I would understand something about the mystery of the universe. I couldn’t do it, but there was that magic, just that connection, that there was something beyond the world of the everyday. And the way to get there was through nature. The birds knew how to do it. The ice on the puddles knew how to do it. The trees knew how to do it. And I thought that if I could just sort of soften myself then I, too, would be able to enter that world, speak that language, yet be able to come back to this world with wisdom and a story.

      –an excerpt from RADICAL JOY FOR HARD TIMES: A Conversation with Trebbe Johnson, PARABOLA, Fall 2012, "The Unknown."

  7. and then i laugh at myself. if i withdraw from time and space as i have asked...i am the corn)))) only i don't know it.

  8. Rumi's words are always so inspiring..and carry so much depth and truth. We don't ever stand still long enough - do we? To see and understand the consequences of what we're doing?

    You've written here - such an important short essay/meditation on taking the time to thinking before doing...and being here with what is.

    Beautiful - as always. Just beautiful!!!

  9. Some lovely lines and descriptions here,Ruth, of both the inner and outer landscape--your observations of order, of 'the great earth bending' contrast and mingle with Rumi's fenceless lines of a meaningful disorder that defies our minds but feeds our spirits. I esp liked 'Trees standing alone in the corn, trees laced at the arms united as one against the next field...' because no tree is ever truly alone, home that they are to every kind of life, no matter how other they can appear when singular. May you have many drives like this to tease our brains with your reflections. ;_)

  10. and what the paved road changed after the dirt road of 100 years past


    even in silence we choose.

    You are a gifted, gifted writer, whether is is poetry or prose. I drive countless country roads where I live and your descriptive talent made me feel like I was driving them as I sit here in my chair in front of the computer!


All responses are welcome.