“Remember the time has come to plow again.” Hesiod, Works and Days
Spring. It’s power never wanes. Once again we experience ourselves, especially in our bodies, as part of some great whole. Things are moving; and we are moved—though we might not know by what or to what end.
It can be scary, even humiliating. The plants, and the birds, and the other animals all around us seem to know just what to do. They commence their spring work and their spring rituals, with no apparent hesitation. It’s as though they have been waiting for the signal, and the signal has been given. Go to it, the time is now!
The human schedule and order of life certainly must, at least in certain ways, stand out from the seasonal rhythms. It’s not as though, for instance, human procreation is simply determined by the seasons, as it is for the plants and other animals.
Yet at the same time, surely we can go too far in setting ourselves apart from the natural rhythms in our bodies and in the world to which our bodies, or rather we, belong. Various technologies and associated practices allow us and indeed encourage us to isolate ourselves from the changes of the seasons—and from what those changes might mean for us.
As the title of his great book Works and Days indicates, Hesiod associates different times of the year with different works. What I find especially enlightening is the basic principle. Life can be lived in awareness and remembrance of the order and rhythms of the natural world; even and perhaps especially a human life. Our participation in something deeper and bigger than ourselves, which also empowers us to be ourselves, is a gift that we might miss, that we might fail to remember.
In the end then, to what is spring moving and calling us? Perhaps first of all as the season that most urgently and obviously reminds us of our participation in a deeper order, it calls us to remember. So already even just to ask ourselves this question is to begin to receive the gift.
And for more specific reflection, the image of the plow can serve us well. It speaks of a host of diverse activities that draw us more deeply into connection with the earth, and with one another, and with ourselves. Spring is for all of us, no matter our situation in life. The time for plowing, of entering more deeply into human life–rooted in a natural order, has come.
Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead.
Image: the Eastern Redbud; one of the glories of the Shenandoah Valley in spring.
Join the Community.
Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.
If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience and enable me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.
Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:
- Man of the Household (Course)
- Woman of the Household (Course)
- Concepts Made Clear (Mini-course)
- Dinner at Home (Mini-course)
“Well, you see, my property is enough to supply me with all my needs...” Socrates, in Xenophon’s Estate Manager While Socrates was not destitute, the value of his estate was relatively low. Yet he expresses gratitude for his financial situation. He assures his friend...
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs Our failure to see the natural roles of husband and wife has real consequences. This stands to reason. When we miss the difference and...
“Beautiful things are those which please when seen.” Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae This much is clear if we have eyes to see: beauty is a first principle in the formation of the world. We could even say it is the principle. The natural world and all its processes...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.