School teachers are known for telling their students to “Pay attention!” The phrase itself is now close to being a shibboleth: it tips you off to the fact that the speaker has never studied the educational, psychological or neurological implications of using a word that is included in the phrase attention deficit disorder.
Somewhere about 1530 or so, a famous man named Martin Luther once said this about ordinary work and worship: “If you are a manual labourer, you find that the Bible has been put into your workshop, into your hand, into your heart. You have as many preachers as you have transactions, goods, tools and other equipment in your house and home.”
When I was applying for jobs in my younger days, I disliked the part about “Your Work History.” I didn’t know whether to record “Paper Route.” Some of the jobs I had later didn’t sound all that impressive, either. Some applications even had a section asking more about my previous work experiences and my “vocational goals.” Yich!
A nice piece of well-tended lawn is just the thing to introduce you to gardens, a patch of forest or perennial beds. A lawn is also a habitat for some creatures: robins thrive by using lawns as food buffets, as do rabbits (nasty nibblers) and swallows that swoop and dive for open-air insects.
I had no training in naming cows. I couldn’t imagine how people came up with things like Sir Campbell-Martin’s Phoenix or O’Reilly’s Shangri-la – the sort of things I found in herd book listings.
Surrounded by wilderness, I am a person of small places. A rural person. It is enough to know that there are sheer cliffs nearby, long hiking trails, talus slopes, alpine lakes and meadows. But I am a person of fields, small shaws, marshes, creeks, ditches, meadows and farmyards.
Amish people are often looked upon as quaint cultural curiosities by those of us who are, well, not Amish. The idea of a horse and buggy on a country road makes for a fuzzy feeling. It is tempting to think something like this: “Is it just wonderful that some people still live in this old-fashioned way?” Or to remark, “I’ve heard that they hire people with tractors, but won’t own one. And some of them have propane refrigerators but won’t have electric ones; quite inconsistent.” We condescend to what we don’t understand.
You might expect that the biblical principle spurring environmental action is stewardship. Several Wisconsinite environmentalists, however, suggest that community is even more important.