Naturally our soul reaps fruit when it spends time closer to creation.
A new type of “homesteading” movement has increased in popularity over the past decade and has led numerous individuals and families to return to a more self-sufficient lifestyle. This often includes raising small livestock, tending a sizable garden or even establishing a larger “hobby farm.”
While the motivations for creating a homestead are typically not spiritual, the heavenly benefits are surprisingly abundant. Naturally our soul reaps much fruit when it spends time closer to God’s creation.
Pope Francis pointed this out in his encyclical Laudato si’ when he explained how “contemplation of creation allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us, since ‘for the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice.’ We can say that ‘alongside revelation properly so-called, contained in sacred Scripture, there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night.’”
There are many spiritual benefits to the modern homesteading movement. Here are four such benefits to consider when contemplating ways to reconnect with God’s marvelous creation.
1. Fulfills God’s call to be a steward of the earth
Choosing to raise chickens or cultivate a fruitful garden helps us respond concretely to God’s call to be a faithful steward. Sin ruptured our original mission to “till and keep” (Gen. 2:15) the earth, and has resulted in fallen humanity being tempted to exercise its dominion as unbridled destruction. Homesteading helps us recover that original mandate in the Garden and repair the damage that has been done.
2. Provides more time for silence and contemplation
When the prophet Elijah was told to listen for God’s voice, he waited until a “still small voice” could be heard (or in other translations, “a whistling of a gentle air”). God wasn’t found in the earthquakes, fire or strong winds, but in the gentle breeze. Homesteading supports this type of silence and provides us time to listen more attentively to God’s voice. In a world constantly consumed with noise, time outside in a garden is invaluable.
3. Creates a renewed sense of gratitude
When buying food from the grocery store, it is easy to forget all the time and energy that went into growing and manufacturing what we bought. It simply “appears” on the shelf and is ready to consume. When engaged in homesteading, it reminds us of the work, suffering and toil that goes into everything we eat. It fosters a sense of gratitude to God (for the favorable weather) and helps us to be grateful to those who spend a living cultivating our food.
4. Fosters a healthy attitude of humility
With the increase in mechanized farming and availability of cheap fruit and vegetables from all corners of the globe, we can be tempted to think that we are masters of the earth. Seasons do not matter and if weather is bad in one part of the world, we turn to some other place to find our food. Homesteading, on the other hand, makes us reliant on the weather and we are forced to appeal to the mercy of God. It reminds us that God is the master of the seasons and no matter how hard we try to conquer creation, we will inevitably have to bow down to our Creator.