I’ve just returned from Mayne Island where I looked after my friends’ farm while they were away visiting their daughter studying in Philadelphia. I felt at ease during these days: the border-collies were overjoyed to see me each time we met, the cats as well (albeit more selfishly), the sheep ate out of my hand, the cattle cared less about who I was than who fed them stacks of hay twice a day, and the chickens let me reach under their fluffed feathers as they sat in the laying boxes so I could collect their still-warm offerings.
Now, an hour’s ferry ride and a receding dawn later, I’m back in the city being met by yet another gift: a load of household garbage strewn all over the newly-dug front yard. The fact that I smiled while picking up the rain-soaked and rather personal droppings reflects my state of mind: nothing personal, just someone’s action I don’t agree with.
Within me still the silence of the farm: the window seat for reading, the orchard, the lake, the fall garden, the meadows, the hay barn, the animals and their single-mindedness. The farm house where I slept is imbued with Quaker sensibilities of peace and service and a family’s fierce dedication to land, family, and honest food. As I go into this day, I’m reminded of a Quaker saying: “Do not speak unless you can improve upon the silence.”
May your days be filled with moments of silence and gratitude.