The Fallow Land

“the Great Suffering which saddens the world, and this your life which can alleviate it: these are the two realities, the two great truths which you must ponder.” (The Fallow Land, Constancio Vigil, 1915)

On my 42nd birthday, my father blessed me with a work of the Uruguayan born Argentinian essayist Constancio Vigil. It’s a book of reflections — essays, poems, and parables about the human condition and where hope lies. It’s his own manifesto, really. If you wish, you can purchase it here:

The first three sections are “On suffering”, “Illnesses”, and “Punishments”. But don’t let that scare you away! It’s one of the most challenging and hopeful books I’ve yet read. Every clear spot in my volume is now marked up. It’s a perfect pondering read for times like this, where suffering, though to different degrees, has come to us all.

Among all the images and quotes that linger with me, the words you see above are those I return to often as I under my life’s journey and struggle with the mighty elusive call of God — or so it seems. These words remind me of what my life has been created and redeemed for: to enter into the world’s pain with a soothing love that is actively alleviating the suffering of the world around me. This is the essence of the Jesus way, to move toward, not away from the world’s pain, and in fact to suffer myself, for the sake of the world’s healing. This is a Holy love that changes things, that creates new possibilities for the flourishing of life and of all creation that God intends.

Here’s a question to ponder: Can you accept that your life bears the power to alleviate the world’s suffering? One day at a time, because you have experienced the grace of God in Jesus, and been filled with his love, your life bears great opportunity and responsibility. The Church is the place where we share this life together, and gear up again and again to love with God’s own love, which is the strongest force God has unleashed in the world.

These things we must ponder again and again, every new day: The world’s suffering and our part in it’s healing and transformation. There is vital ministry to be done during a global health pandemic and a festering racial brokenness in these our days. In more ways than one, ours is “A Fallow Land”. God’s redeeming work has to do with you — your life, and your love, and together our life, and our love.

Move toward the suffering. Enter into it. Embrace the pain of others as your own, and speak and act out the Holy love that alleviates it. And start by getting your hands on “The Fallow Land”.

Peter Hawkinson

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