by Julia Rox
I spent two weeks with the Hoyt family during the busy farming weeks of a thirsty July, though I did not find it that hot in New York since I came all the way from Tennessee. I took my pilgrimage to St. Francis in order to work and learn and find sanctuary from the noise of the everyday life of a college student. I found St. Francis through the WWOOFing site, and was attracted to it not only because it fulfilled my desire to learn about farming and sustainable living, but it also had the community that I always saw as an important part of that process. God’s creation– both the land and the people living on it, instead of a life lived out of the desire for worldly success. People would often ask me “what will you be doing on this farm?” to which I would reply “I’m not sure…whatever they want me to do, I guess.”
I guessed right. During my time on the farm I got to do everything from milking goats (which was my favorite task), weeding, harvesting, feeding animals, chopping vegetables before dinner (a skill in which I was lacking), driving the tractor, working the saw mill, washing dishes, and generally anything that needed to be done. If all of those tasks were pieces that that made up the machine of the farm, the other things we did were the oil that made the machine run smoothly- reading, writing, biking, picking berries, playing music, and good conversation.
One of the most important parts of the day was the thirty minutes of silent prayer and reflection every morning. Dorothy Day quotes Gustav Landauer when she says “The real transformation of society will come only in love, in work, and in stillness.” There are many young people and activists who are ready to change the world, who know the importance of love and work, but stillness is something that is often forgotten. The Hoyt’s concern for my happiness and comfort, unfailing patience, generosity, kindness shown to me and everyone else they come in contact with was proof that they live in the love of Christ. Much of farm work is repetitive and physically exhausting, but they are always willing to do it, no matter what the task is or how long it will take. The Hoyt family knows how to work. But they also know stillness. It is a comfort to me to think at any given time during my day that I can at least take a guess at what is going on at the farm in my absence, that every day those well oiled wheels of the farm are moving in the transformation of society.
In our time of prayer in the morning I would say this prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer –For Every Man in his Work: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who declares thy glory and showest forth thy handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men; for the sake of him who came among us as one that serveth, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. This is a prayer that is truly lived on St. Francis Farm. As I fall back into the pattern of my everyday life, I hope to take what I have learned in my time at St. Francis and use it not only to remember the Hoyt family and our wonderful time together, but also to follow the instruction of Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, pray without ceasing.
by Julia Rox