Lessons in Farming or Life?

The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. -Isaiah 58:11 (NLT)

Yesterday, I posted the interview that Mary Akers of r.kv.ry Literary Journal did with me about my last essay, The Shrink Who Killed Gazoo. In that interview, Ms. Akers introduced me to a concept in farming called “fallow.” She applied it to my last blog post about being in-between, and she says,

“Another word I like to use to express the notion of in-between is ‘fallow.’ In farming, you have to give a field a rest every once in a while. While it’s resting, good things are happening. Connections in the soil are being made, nitrogen is building up…good things. There is a lot of potential in a fallow field.”

I had never heard of this concept applied in this way, (considering I am a city girl), but I immediately fell in love with the word “fallow” and the way Ms. Akers described it. From what I extracted from her description of fallow, there is this overall concept a time of “rest” where “good things” are happening. There is an assumption that something good and something necessary is going on during this time.

And then the strangest thing happened this morning. I get “word of the day” notifications on my iPad from dictionary.com (yes, I am aware I am a nerd) and what word shows up this morning…you guessed it…FALLOW:

Fallow adjective: 1. Not in use; inactive. 2. (Of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated.

1. Land that has undergone plowing and harrowing and has been left unseeded for one or more growing seasons.

Is the Universe trying to tell me something??

I often think of this in-between period or “fallow” time as being without purpose. But if I could try and shift my thinking, perhaps life in “fallow” can actually be good. The time I spend in this in-between time is preparing me for the next accomplishment; the next dream achieved; the next goal realized; the next challenge to overcome.

I underlined some important phrases for me in the definition – inactive; a season or more; has undergone plowing; growing seasons. Because I often like to look at my life metaphorically, the farming aspect of the word fallow; the soil, the rest, and the potential, all made sense to me.

A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a link where someone wrote about the process of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. I don’t recall the specifics of the article, but the main idea was that the timing of a caterpillar making its transition to butterfly is organic. If the caterpillar makes its transition too soon, the butterfly will not develop properly and will die. The timing for the beautiful manifestation of the butterfly has to be just right. This made sense to me from a timing perspective, but what happens in that time in-between?

I have often thought of that in-between time as being without purpose, that is until I was introduced to the word “fallow.” It didn’t occur to me that there could possibly be something “good” going on in the waiting time…in the rest time. For me, this in-between time is often a time of confusion, sadness, frustration, and disappointments. When you believe in “fallow,” those bad feelings are no longer in vain. My faith is reactivated. I’m not just frustrated, confused, and sad for no reason…

My suffering actually has purpose.

7 thoughts on “Lessons in Farming or Life?

  1. Wonderful post! I have also found that those fallow periods when I am (as you say above) most frustrated, confused, sad, and disappointed, often precede great bursts of creativity, as if I am going through the fire on my way to becoming stronger and better. Knowing this doesn’t really make those periods of doubt any easier to traverse, but it does help me to hold onto the “long view” of my life, and that’s never a bad thing.

  2. Wow! You and I are such on the same wave length, Michele. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. In my therapy sessions we’ve been discussing this “fallow” period of my life where just being is more important than anything I might do. It’s a time of resting, healing and gestation, and I need to live it with that intention instead of balking at it. Who knows what’s being planted and will harvest in the years to follow.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom. You help me to see into my own. … Yours in the fallow field of life … Be well in it … Dorothy🙂

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