For one thing, I’m a terribly practical person when you get down to it. I don’t say “totes” or “adorbs” or “fave” or “legit”. I’m not sure how often I use the word totally. When this faithful MacBook hits rock bottom and decides it will no longer serve me, it will be my last computer for a long time. I’ll get a type-writer instead, to write my books on. I like the ideas of the old world—not just something you think about, but something you live. I want to live that way.
I’m not caught up in politics or what’s going to happen with the war. In some ways I’m irresponsible.
But I am quiet in my soul, and the quiet radiates out of me and into my life, and I desire to live simply, as much in the physical company of those near to me as possible, and not so much over superficial places on the internet.
I have a mind to do something purposeful. Not just part-time-jobbing my twenties away, but really doing something that means something to me. I don’t believe that the earth was made to give to us. I believe that whatever it gives counts as blessings from God, for the righteous and the unrighteous. I believe that we were put on this earth to tend it.
Yes, I like to mess around with style and fashion. It’s enjoyable to pick out a crazy outfit and go somewhere. But lately it’s felt like more of a strain. It’s so difficult each morning to decide what to wear, and to know it has to be nice and different. And then you see all these girls, and they’re all wearing the same type of thing—”what’s in” I guess you call it. Lately I’ve simply been wearing whatever comes into my hands first. My priorities are to be clean and presentable, and whatever clothes me should flow with that general idea.
But where I am most at home is outdoors, and above all, with animals. I like the fresh, cutting smell of pine and wet wood in the fall. I love the serenity of the woods and the fields under quiet snow. I like the warmth of a horse’s breath on your cold hand in the early morning, when he’s stamping for his food. I like taking care of things, things that are living, things that are dependent on you for their well-being.
I’m just about ten days from my nineteenth birthday. The years seem to be going fast. I’m young and a vigorous blood flows in my veins. I am ready now to perform these things, to start living out and following a God-given dream I believe I was meant to realize. To start establishing myself, not independently, but purposefully, as fits a young woman.
In these Wendell Berry books, young people decide that they love each other and they get married and settle down to live life. They don’t go through this whole ordeal of trying to decide whether or not the girl or boy in question is ready for marriage. They go ahead and do it, live life, learn from their mistakes. Now it seems like there are so many inhibitions to marriage. So much doubt about whether or not “he/she’s the right one! what if he/she isn’t?” And it doesn’t have to be that complicated, because honestly it’s never something that can be answered with logic. But my point is that our lives nowadays complicate so much, even marriage. College, career, lifestyles, etc. So much divides us nowadays.
In those books and in those times women weren’t defined as writers or lawyers or artists or musicians. They were measured and judged by their character qualities—by their sweetness, obedience, honesty, contentment. They were admired, and while their husbands worked in the fields and with the animals they cooked and cleaned, fed the chickens and milked the cows, took care of the children, prepared the food for winter, canned, pickled. She may have had artistic qualities—for instance she may have been a writer. But her goal as a writer was not publicity. She would write for herself, and for those around her. She wasn’t always alone in her work, and neither were the men in their work. There were always people who stopped by to talk, always people who stopped by to help out. Even work was a type of community, for both women and men.
The point is this. I want to be that kind of a woman. I am strong in both mind and spirit and body, and I know I am capable. I want to be admired for those qualities, and I want to be known as capable of cooking and cleaning, of being responsible, of being hard-working.
“She had come into her beauty. This was not the beauty of her youth and freshness, of which she had had a plenty. The beauty that I am speaking of now was that of a woman who has come into knowledge and into strength and who, knowing her hardships, trusts her strength and goes about her work even with a kind of happiness, serene somehow, and secure. It was that beauty she would always have. Her eyes had not changed. They still seemed to exert a power, as if whatever she looked at was brightened.” (Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry)
God created the woman as a capable help-meet to Adam. He created her a marvelous thing, as marvelous as man, but in a different way. How can we expect to be the same? He created her a beautiful thing, strong and intelligent and above all, with purpose. We are not as strong as men, but we have our strength. Our arms are strong for our tasks. We are created with strength for what we are purposed to do.
And I think it’s noble.
I am old-fashioned. I don’t understand things about these days, or else I do but I disagree with them. And I live so much in the old world that coming into the new world is like a jolt, a shock.
I am happy. I have a purpose, and I want to work with the land. I know from experience it is a satisfying kind of work. A hard work, but satisfying.
After all, I’m not entirely a bookworm. If I’m practical in my speech, I make up for it in imagination. I get that from books. And in my imagination and in my entire being a dream is born, and I don’t discard it just because it is a dream. I take it up carefully, tenderly in my hands. I grow it and I grow it until it is big and strong and ready to be fulfilled. It’s not just any foolhardy dream. There are some dreams you can tell are futile. But then there are others… you feel it to the core of your being, and you can’t explain how or why, but you are led. And God gives you grace, and grace feeds it, and God gives you opportunity and means, and then, in the end, you realize it.
I realize it.