Category Archives: small things

manifesto: the mad farmer liberation front // wendell berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

One of my very favorites and the kind of reminder I need almost every hour these days. “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts”

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the year of small things

A few weeks ago my dear friend Ally turned me on to this blog post about naming your year instead of making resolutions. The point is to live out a unified theme instead of a bunch of benign disparate wishes (go to the gym more/read the whole Bible/ keep up with current events). This idea of having such a focused purpose has resonated with me over the past few weeks and I finally stumbled into what I want the purpose of my year to be. My wish is for 2012 to be the year of small things.

This is not a new idea for me. If you know me, you know I write and talk about this a lot, but since all this writing and talking has thus far failed to help this simple thought take root in my heart, please indulge me as I continue to discuss it. I latched onto this idea a few years ago after hearing this song but had completely forgotten it until recently. The phrase comes from a story in Zechariah about a guy named  Zerubabbel who was trying to build a temple to the Lord. When he started building everyone was excited but a little while later some neighbors got mad and support waned. Soon, what was supposed to be a great temple was just an empty vacant lot. Zerubabbel had given up until one day the prophet Zechariah came and spoke to him. “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’ “Then the word of the LORD came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. “Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zechariah 4:6-10

God delights in taking something insignificant and turning it into something significant. He pieces together our feeble efforts and redeems them into something beautiful. Zerubabbel had thought all of his efforts had been in vain, he had wasted so much time being excited about the temple- drawing up plans, raising support, reading building codes and zoning laws- but nothing had come of it. But Zechariah came to tell him that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Nothing Zerubabbel had done had been outside the will of God, all of the small things he had done had served to bring him to this place, which was right where he was supposed to be.

So often I am tempted to think that my life would be better if I was anywhere other than where I am. If I was drinking more champagne, getting promotions, owning a house, living it up in a fabulous city. Embarrassing as it is, I want my life to look like the blogs I read- polished and shiny, full of parties and great vacations. Even though I know that their closets are likely just as messy as mine I am lulled into believing that, to quote The Weepies, “Movies, TV screens reflect just what you expected/there’s a world of shiny people somewhere else/out there following their bliss/living easy, getting kissed/while you wonder what else you’re doing wrong.” My life is not very glamorous right now. I spend most of my time studying and up until recently, I had four part-time jobs. I can’t take fancy trips because the rent needs to be paid and I can’t afford to eat out so most nights I curl up on my couch with a bowl of homemade soup. I spend so much time striving to make my life something that it is not and I miss the holiness of the everyday.

How foolish am I to live my life wanting for more when God is in the business of making much of my ordinary things. These days of small things are exactly the place where He uses us. He enters into my every day and turns them into deeply holy moments if only I would be present and aware enough to celebrate them. I don’t think God wants me to live a thin watered-down life where I am constantly searching out the next source of entertainment, barely stopping to rub my thought over any of it. I think He wants to it be full and robust, not because of my circumstances but because I’m aware of His presence and how He is shaping and preparing me for bigger things while I’m chopping vegetables and studying for class.

I think one of the best ways to become more aware is to write something down, so don’t be surprised if you start to see more of these posts popping up on But First, Coffee as I learn what it means to discover the holy in the mundane.

What do y’all think? Any tips for learning to celebrate the ordinary? If you end up naming your year too, let us know what you decide!

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Filed under emily, small things