photo by Broken Banjo Photography

By Anthony Mecca

Co-Director, Biodynamic Demeter Alliance

“There is practically no field of human endeavor that does not relate to agriculture in some way. Seen from whatever perspective you choose, agriculture touches on every single aspect of human life.”

— Rudolf Steiner, Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal Agriculture, Lecture 1

Agriculture is often cited as a major factor underlying the founding of modern civilization and as a contributor to its continuing evolution. Sometimes it is named a wonder and miracle, and other times a devastator to be banished. And yet it is an all-encompassing truth: how human beings relate to and transform the earth is central to the health and development of the earth and of humanity. This "how" is both a current reality as well as a task ahead of us. How can we reimagine agriculture to serve health and healing; to rebuild community, social, and economic relationships; and to honor and care for the gifts of the earth and all her inhabitants?

This how is a big question. Where does one even start?!? One suggestion we can take from Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Lectures is the cultivation of a deeply heartfelt gratitude as a starting point. What are you grateful for? You might also ask: what are you not grateful for, and why? Gratitude is, deceivingly, not as simple as it seems at first. We may take up the task of learning to carry gratitude beyond what serves and pleases our personal self, and beyond the grander experiences of life, to include the everyday, the overlooked, and even the maligned. Instead of just the more commonly recognized “content” of gratitude — being grateful for a particular experience, thing, or person — we may cultivate a greater capacity for gratitude, which we can then extend to all that we meet. We can be grateful for the bountiful harvest as well as the "weeds" and "pests." This is a first step towards the divine and sacred in us recognizing and serving the divine and sacred around us. 

"One can develop love in the best possible way through gratitude."

— Rudolf Steiner (GA 297a, The Hague, November 4, 1922)

Gratitude helps us to recognize we are not the center of the universe, but a link in all creation. It is other people, other kingdoms of nature, and other seen and unseen beings that provide for us. This realization may support strengthening our will to more consciously provide for them. We move from being more self-centered to working more strongly with and for others, and being thankful for this work, as challenging as it may be. Even in tough situations, we can be grateful for the opportunity to grow and develop. Gratitude opens us to what we may not have otherwise seen or come to know. It is an opening to a fuller participation in life.

As we meet the upcoming days marking the centenary of Rudolf Steiner offering "Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture", we may gather as celebrants of biodynamic agriculture and all those, seen and unseen, who have and continue to work on its behalf. Together we each play a part in this tremendous and important task of reimagining agriculture.

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