By NEMS Daily Journal
Most Mississippians understand the importance of a good planting season because the seeds of spring become the harvests of summer and fall.
The cool, wet spring has delayed many of Mississippi’s farms getting seeds in the ground. In almost every crop category, planting and growth is behind normal schedules, but many crops remain within the times of opportunity to plant and still make a good harvest.
Most farmers rely on the advances of plant science and technology to help increase the odds for survival and profit, but it’s not unusual to hear farmers and others who depend on the soil and what they can grow to talk about praying for rain, or warmth, or clear days or drier fields.
The evidence of agricultural history from its earliest beginnings shows deep religious roots among people who grew things for a living.
The narratives of the Christian and Hebrew scriptures have many allusions to farming, crops and harvests. The polytheistic cultures of many parts of the world have specific gods and goddesses related to planting and harvest..
Some of the most eloquent prayers across civilizations are about farming and the holiness of the undertaking.
Esther de Waal, a scholar of ancient Celtic cultures, has reproduced in “The Celtic Way of Prayer” some of the Christian prayers for blessing of farming.
“Consecration of the Seed” is translated from the original Gaelic:
I will go out to sow the seed,
In name of Him who gave it growth;
I will place my front in the wind,
And throw a gracious handful on high.
Should a grain fall on a bare rock,
It shall have no soil in which to grow;
As much as falls into the earth,
The dew will make it to be full.
Friday, day auspicious,
The dew will come down to welcome
Every seed that lay in sleep
Since the coming of cold without mercy;
Every seed will take root in the earth,
As the King of the elements desired,
The braird will come forth with the dew,
It will inhale life from the soft wind.
I will come round with my step,
I will go rightways with the sun,
In name of Ariel and the angels nine,
In name of Gabriel and the Apostles kind.
Father, Son, and Spirit Holy,
Be giving growth and kindly substance
To every thing that is in my ground,
Till the day of gladness shall come…
“Carmina Gadelica,” Volume 1, translations by Alexander Carmicheal, 1900
She quotes theologian Noel Dermott O’Donoghue, ‘The seedsman is his own priest. The work is equally labor and liturgy// He is exactly situated in space and time in a world where each little field, each hillock and valley, has a name, and where not only each of the four seasons is noted but many lesser seasons as well, each with its own character …”
In that context it is easy to understand farming as a calling, not merely as a job.