Meditative work is the sort that keeps the hands—and usually the eyes— busy, but does not engage the mind other than minimally, leaving it free to roam. Washing the dishes, shoveling manure, weeding a garden, plowing a field, plucking a goose, and basic crocheting or knitting are all what I would consider meditative work. Opportunities for meditative work abound on a farm, which may be why so many farmers move relatively slowly. Or perhaps they just seem slow, compared to the city dweller hurrying-rushing-running to achieve and make a mark on the world. Farmers seem to know instinctively that they run on nature’s time. What cannot be done today will often be waiting tomorrow (and sometimes next week!).
At the same time, however, the farmer recognizes the need to pay attention to what I would call “peak time”—the exact moment of perfect ripeness of a tomato or an ear of corn, the best combination of season and sun and rain to plant, the correct moisture content at which the hay should be baled. These peak moments are fleeting and must be caught immediately, lest the tomato be mushy, the seed not germinate, or the hay mold. It is the meditative state which allows one to grasp those evanescent instants as they unfold, instead of rushing to get ahead with eyes so fixed on the future that the present slips by unheeded.
We need more meditation in this world. Today, take a few minutes to enjoy that brilliant sunset. Eat the perfectly ripe tomato with gratitude and careful attention to the exquisite tart sweetness of its crimson flesh. Capture peak time and savor the moment.