Every year at The Village we observe fallow month in December. “Fallow” is a farming term which means to leave a field unplanted. This gives the field a chance to rest and replenish nutrients. We practice fallow month to give us space to rest. We try not to fill up the month with events, but rather we take time off from our pilgrim groups, monastic communities and other events. The intent is to give our community space to be in each other’s homes to celebrate together. The pastors take this time to rest also. Sometimes we do bigger projects or just try to seek God in the extra space.
This year, as you well know at this point, has been different to say the least. To continue the farming metaphor, its been a year of fire and famine and of lost crops. We have practiced almost a sort of forced fallowness this whole year. I came across a song recently about the Great Irish Famine that was written from the perspective of a parish priest pleading with God. As I listened I found myself weeping because though this year hasn’t quite been a famine to that extent, the song spoke to the helplessness I’ve felt this year. It spoke to my pleading with God over the loss of life, and relationship, and growth. One conversation I’ve had with Eric and Rod over and over this year is about what we think God is doing with this year, what He might want to teach our community, what we are called to in this forced solitude.
This year for fallow month we are practicing a sort of partial fallowness. Some of our pilgrim groups have continued to meet. Some of our pastoral meetings will continue. But I want you to consider the word fallow with us. What does rest look like in this season? What does celebrating together look like when we can’t all be together as we would hope to be? What does joy (the pleasure of God’s company) look like this advent?
Finally, I invite you to meditate on the words of David in Psalm 23, and consider what it means that we lack nothing, that the Lord refreshes our souls, that he is with us in the darkest places, that his love follows us all the days of our lives.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”