Thursday, March 08, 2007



As I'm just back from a time of "fallowing," I thought it would be good to move to that topic here. Besides, it is the next topic in Berry's list of what the Peruvian mountain farmers do to control erosion.

On the surface, the practice of fallowing makes little sense. For how could leaving the ground unplanted contribute to keeping soil in place? How could doing "nothing" accomplish "something"?

In truth, there's much that goes on in a fallow field. The farmer plows the soil. He may plant a cover crop to restore nutrients to the soil. Or he may let nature plant what it will. Ultimately, this improves the soil's structure, which influences how it absorbs and retains water.

I consider that to let my life go fallow at times does not mean "doing nothing." Indeed, it may entail doing something unusual, even a little wild.

Maybe, just maybe, this is what I'm doing out in my secret spot in the back yard. When the rains come and the next season for planting comes, we will see if something new and strong and restructured emerges...

Standing Seedlings Invitation: If you post something related to this Seedlings post, let me know and I'll link to you.

Pine cone photo, on the way to my Secret Spot. L.L. Barkat.



Preparing the Soul


Another Take On Silence

Five Reasons Why I Blog (or, how fallowing-in-Florida made me less serious)


Incas & Disposable Everything

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Blogger Aimee said...

could fallowing be a time of spiritual healing for the land (our hearts) ...a time of quiet preparation for the next big crop of spiritual fruit?

11:51 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Good metaphor. It breathes new life into the idea of retreating-- which I'm about to do this weekend again briefly.

Next week, I'm taking some time off to be with the kids.

So much of life isn't about growth. It's just about presence and patience.

I know this with my head, but knowing it with my heart so that I actually live this kind of peace is something else entirely.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Whopeee... she's back! (announcing) And now, we do the dance of joy...

Fallowed ground. Still thinking. Haven't figured it out yet, but thanks for giving us something to be processing in those back channels.

(turning away) Hey guys, did you see who's back?

1:06 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

aimee... I guess that's what I always thought, though now I'm thinking that there's less quiet than we imagine in a fallow time. Consider all the life between the furrows. But, it is a different kind of life.

Mark... now that's a fallowing activity sure to bring some wild life! (playing with those lively little kids). Enjoy.

Craver... okay, so the day I ever meet you in person is the day you must do the happy dance. I hope the office won't be too crowded for your sake. [turning away] "Hey, guys, I've got tickets to Craver's Happy Dance, cheap."

4:00 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Glad you're back, and hope you and your family had a great getaway.

Great thought here. Maybe I need to take that and apply it to my irregular times. I think to know how to do this in life, would be so beneficial. Both for some spiritual renewal type of times. As well as just good old fashioned vacations.

Good food for thought here!

4:56 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Now I am feeling disappointed and sad that I didn't get to meet Craver. : (

Durn snowstorms. We were in the same town (sort of) but we might as well have been separated by oceans.

5:03 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

Glad you are back too!! I love this metaphor. It is tempting to always be "doing" and to forget that we all need to withdraw to lonely places at times to have times of simply "being".

What a refreshing thought!

And can I reserve a place for a "Happy Dance" viewing also? :)

5:17 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

So glad you're back online! But guess what everyone?! I got to meet Laura in PERSON while she was gone. Turns out her little getaway was right near my house!

Aren't farmers always supposed to be letting some part of their field be fallow? If so, I wonder if that's supposed to be happening in us continually. Kind of like entering into His rest . . . perpetually.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed your "fallowing".
It's just God's law--reaping and sowing, waiting and working--part of what makes life "flow".

Well, na-na boo boo,everyone, I see L.L. most every Tuesday at women's bible study!! Teehee.

8:36 PM  
Blogger aspire2 said...

You just gave me a fantastic metaphor for what a day of rest is. Thank you!

9:35 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ted... yes, it's good to be back (but, it was also great to put my mind on completely different things for a week). That's kind of how I see being fallow... it's not so much "rest" in the sense of doing nothing, but in the sense of doing something out of the ordinary.

Mark... well, just think of the future! The Happy Dance to come!

Kirsten... thanks for the welcome back. Tell us, what do you do to be fallow? Or, what do you wish you did? (Oh, and, yes, you can get a front-row seat to Craver's Happy Dance if you act now.)

Christianne... isn't that funny how "in person" is what we always long for? And I suppose the answer about the farmer is "yes." A sort of rotating system of rest. What would a "rotating system" look like in our lives?

Andrea... I think you and Craver could start a good side show "na na, shimmy shimmy."

San... I suppose the metaphor is nothing new (though I thank you for your reception of it), but what was new to me was the thought that the field is not idle during this time of being fallow.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

I'm a new reader ... Your post resonated with what I've been thinking lately about silence and making space in our lives for new things.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ooh, I'm going to have to think about this, but yes I do agree with the concept.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

Glad you're back (it really was quiet while you were gone). I'll be watching for the showtimes and dates for the "Dance of Joy". I'd like to see that one too.

I like the thoughts here. It called to mind some thoughts I've been having recently myself about silence and settling. I posted them today and linked over here.

3:49 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Maria... so glad to meet you. And I loved your companion post over on Spiritual Birdwatching. Welcome!

Jennifer... yes, it is something to mull. It amazes me how even old images never seem to come to an end in the thoughts they provoke.

Amusing... hmmm... I wonder what that quiet says about how much I talk! I'll keep you posted as to show times and dates. I hope Craver is polishing his dancing shoes. And I loved your companion post on silence and settling.

4:38 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

i grew up on a farm in Ky, but i still had to look up the word "fallow"'s been a while since i've done anything farm-related.

hmmm.....that could be what's going on with me,too, since our move a year and a half ago. i was very involved where we used to church, working part time, as a mom, in community events, the point of burn-out. since the move i've chosen to stay-at-home with my son to enjoy his last couple of years before school....and have been very "inactive". we'll see if a new season of planting comes soon....

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished up the Wendell Berry book I was reading (The Unsettling of America), and he writes about the example of the Peruvian mountain farmers there, too! (Or is this the same book you are reading?)

I've just seen the effects of improper fallowing in my back yard over the past few days. Once the snow melted, I realized that when I cleared away some pesky vines from the ground beneath my tree, I left no ground cover for the winter. The rain, snow, freezing and thawing have caused ruts and erosion back there. Sometimes, fallowing can only happen after a time of preparation.

Reminds me too of all the work that happens in Jewish households on Friday afternoon so when sundown comes, everyone will be ready for Shabbat.

Have I told you how glad I am that you're back?

9:37 PM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

First, am so glad to see you back. Every time I came back to check your blog I was so sad when I remembered you were gone...

I like this concept, but I don't think the depth of it has quite set in with me. I'll give it some more thought, and probably write a post on it this weekend.

And I'm always up for a good show, so I'm looking forward to The Dance.

12:04 AM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

okay, some thoughts about it on my blog which are too long to post here...but my basic thought is this: we tend to focus on producing crops because we like to see the results of our work, but I wonder if we are not supposed to be focusing on fallowing (abiding in Him, preparing our hearts) so that HE can work the field to produce the crops...

2:23 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

Something I do to be fallow (and wish I did more) is to withdraw from the world for a time. If I stay home, there are too many worldly cares waiting for me: there is a floor to be vacuumed, dishes to be washed, mail to sort, etc. I find I must be deliberate about it & at times must force myself to stay and to be still. Typically I go to my favorite "secret spot" like you've described simply to listen and wait with open hands. Sometimes I ahve to make it happen in the early hours before I leave for work. Even if I cannot articulate what I've heard & received, I leave feeling fed & refreshed.

I'd love to hear how others incorporate times of fallowing into their lives too ...

4:07 AM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...


Welcome back - I trust your time away was fruitful.

Thanks for the neat metaphor. I'm in a season of fallowing myself and this part of your post caught my eye.

"Indeed, it may entail doing something unusual, even a little wild."

I've had a couple of crazy ideas that I'd like to explore so this fallowing time is allowing me to do so.

4:27 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Blue... so you have moved? What encouraged that? Did you resist it? And it sounds like you are glad for the change now. Is that so?

Charity... oh, I think Berry probably circles round again on his thoughts. Being such a prolific writer, it would be amazing if that didn't happen. The book I'm reading is The Gift of Good Land. I like your thought about preparation. And Spaghettipie picks up on that too in a marvelous post of her own. Also, I'm glad to be back, and it is precious to know I was missed.

Spaghetti... thank you for missing me. That is very encouraging. For I did have some hard soul work when I was gone (which made me feel like I should just go away from people). In any case, I loved your companion post, and I'll be musing on it for awhile to come.

Kirsten... I love what you say about sometimes not being able to articulate what you've heard and received. I was feeling like that yesterday, bundled beneath the pine tree. My mind was dazed, but I was filled with joy at how the pine needles shivered and swayed in the breeze. It was enough, though I had gone there hoping to "hear" something particular.

Andre... so glad you picked up on my personal favorite line (though I'm always amazed and humbled by how all the comments pick up what needs to be aired and explored! Even if it's not what I would have picked.) Anyway, I can't wait to hear your crazy ideas. Maybe you could join Craver in the Dance of Joy? It sounds like a crazy, wonderful thing. And we're all lining up for the show.

12:00 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

l.l.- we were living in my husband's hometown in MD, and had to move for his new job. to tell you the truth, he resisted it more than i. we had been in MD since we were married and i liked it and had made a life for myself there, but it didn't feel like "home" to me. plus, there were some overpowering in-law issues that made it hard.

but, we only moved about an hour south of where we were. i wasn't looking forward to it, as it was an even more rural area and it can be very hard to make friends, find a good church, etc. and i wanted to move a little further south so we could be in between our two families.

we still don't know if this is where we are going to settle, but it has been a nice breather, so to speak. maybe to prepare for the next phase of our life and journey together.

4:35 PM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

This is how relevant your post is. Yesterday morning at breakfast, my husband and I were talking about the landscaping we need to do in our backyard. He mentioned that his step-mom (an avid gardner) recommended that we prepare the beds, make sure we've really killed off the weeds and wait until next season to plant. I agreed, and then suddenly realized we would be leaving the beds to fallow!

10:57 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Nice little lesson you have given me there about fallowing.

Another nice seasonal pic there!

6:55 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Blue... so you are sort of in the D.C. area? So is Erin (my soulpersuit buddy). I admire your optimistic outlook on the move!

Spaghetti... and I bet it's hard to wait, isn't it? This is a great example that brings home the concept!

Martin... it seems there are quite a few lovely fields where you are. I suppose perhaps some farms too? I bet you could give us some beautiful pics of fallow fields.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Impressive list of comments. That LL, she's got quite a fallowing, eh?

Oh boy, I crack my self up! That was a real knee-slapper!

And since Mrs. Craver's garden has been overrun with weeds, and she won't let me just cover it up, my spine will likely break in in four or five places trying to prep the ground next month. We'll have to do a raincheck on any public showings of the dance of joy. (All together: "Awwwwww.") It can't be done properly from a wheelchair. But until I get started on the backyard, I'll keep practicing... just in case.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Shammickite said...

Fallowing? Just another word for a much needed nap.
Just like the soil that nutures life in the form of plants and trees, and crops, we need a break to reinvest energy and get restocked with ambition and nutrients.

4:35 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... you know, you are such a funny fallow. And a wheelchair is no excuse. As long as the arms still work, we're on.

Ex... zzzzzzzz... oops. Sorry. Went fallowing for a moment there.

5:27 PM  

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