Discipleship of Farming: Listen to the Corn
How are you doing on this chilly day in Fall? I don’t know about you, but I was very excited this past week when the temperatures got above 70 degrees! I spent the whole day on Friday outside helping a dear friend with a building project–before it rained. However, it was great day to be outside! I have noticed in “these here parts” that even when it is below 60 degrees, people are still running around outside in shorts and t-shirts….that’s crazy! I have been wearing jeans and flannels ever since the temperature dropped below 80 degrees. How about you: are you still wearing shorts and t-shirts on these cold days or are you like me and wearing long pants and long sleeves?
Nevertheless, last week we gave thanks to the many farmers in our life for the hard-work and dedication they put in day-in-and-day-out. Because of them, ourselves, the livestock, and so many other things are taken care of. Because of them, we are able to have the resources that we have today. Because of them, the world is becoming a better place. So, did you take time to thank a farmer last week?
Today, we look at another aspect of farmer that I know many of you are familiar with….CORN! Did you know that corn is the primary U.S. feed grain, accounting for more than 95 percent of total feed grain production and use. Additionally, according to the Economic Research Service, “The United States is the largest producer, consumer, and exporter of corn in the world.”[i] Furthermore, on average, U.S. farmers plant about 90 million acres of corn each year, with the majority of the crop grown in the Heartland region. Lastly, as is stated by the Economic Research Service, “Most of the crop is used domestically as the main energy ingredient in livestock feed and for…ethanol production. Corn is also processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, and certain beverages.” Corn is more than something that we eat or look at or grow: it is part of our life. And did you know that corn talks?
Have you ever listened to corn? I’m not talking about popcorn popping in the microwave. I’m talking about being present in a field of corn when everything is calm and the earth is silent. Did you know that corn “talks?” I had no idea that that was even possible, until I moved here. I experienced what Rev. David Zellmer experienced many years ago while he was spending time with his “very quiet German Grandfather.” When Rev. David Zellmer was twelve years old, his very quiet German Grandfather took him out to the Iowa cornfields in the middle of the night and taught him something about vocation and faith that’s stuck with him ever since. Listen to how Rev. Zellmer retells that experience.
“So, we go into the dark and get the tractor started up. We drive the ridge through this…ocean of corn: there was corn as far as you can see. We drive a quarter of mile, and my grandfather stops. He turns the tractor off and turns the lights off on the tractor, and he says, ‘Now follow me.’ And off we go through this corn. We’ve gone down probably thirty rows of corn or better, and he says, ‘I want you to lay down, lay down on your back.’ I laid down and so did he; our heads almost touching. So here we were laying down between the rows of corn. And he says, ‘Now be quiet and don’t move.’
As the insects and birds that we woke up traveling through this ocean of corn began to fall back asleep, I began to hear what sounded like popcorn. And it just kept getting louder as the night [returned to its silent slumber.] And David’s grandfather said, ‘Now, boy, do you know what that is?’ And I said, I have no idea. And he said, ‘Well, that’s corn growing. That’s what corn sounds like when it’s growing and it does most of its growth at night after it’s taken in.’”
Reverend David’s story reminds me of what Paul stated in his letter to the people of Rome. Paul wrote, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Corn is more than just something we eat and look at: corn is a reminder that we need to listen to our faith. We need to hear the word of Christ so that we, too, may grow like the corn. Maybe that’s why we call it an ear of corn, because we need to use our ears to listen to what is growing?
This week find a quiet space and listen for the word of Christ. Read scripture with your parents. Pray with your parents. And find an ear of corn to place on your dresser so that you will remember to listen to Jesus!
Your Friend, Holy Spirit!
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