When I photographed these orderly rows of young corn extending to the horizon, I was thinking about the farmer and his work, evidenced by the tractor tracks and the amount of time, money and energy it took to plant this enormous field. Reflecting on the image now, I appreciate the contribution of all growers and marvel at the process of cultivation, from conceptualization and planning to planting and harvesting. Having had no experience with farming, I hadn’t given much thought to cultivation. But now, reflecting on this image, I realize that it’s basically a process of deciding what is wanted, planting seeds and following through to realization.
Tracing this field back, I imagine that the farmer’s decision to plant a certain kind and amount of corn was motivated by a variety of factors among them family, economics, climate, soil conditions, insects, impact on the local community and politics. Even at this early stage, the field in this image provides evidence of the choices he made, including his thinking, caring and persistent hard work. And doesn’t that hold true for individuals, families, communities, schools, businesses, corporations, states and nations as well? A close examination of these social and corporate entities—their fields—provides evidence of their collective consciousness, including their view of the world, values, choices and actions. That which is manifest is a reflection of those who create.
So what am I planting? What am I cultivating? What are we causing to grow at work and in society? Especially I ask this of the “fields” that are most formative in our children’s lives—education, movies, television, advertising and the internet. And in the fields of energy, environment, health and health care, food production and national security? As individuals and as a nation, what are the values, behaviors, manners and speech customs that we are planting in all fields. It’s an important question, for “as we sow, so shall we reap.” The consequences of our current thinking and choosing today, show up tomorrow. The fields of our lives, where we live and work and come together to collaborate, provide the context and opportunity to plant new, more hearty, robust and nutritious ideas for ourselves and our children. And what about the quality of what we’re planting? Does it contribute to growth? By taking it in, will we be stronger and more resiliant against diseases of the social/global mind, heart or body? Personally, is the field that I tend and the labor I put into it, giving me joy? Just as a good cook becomes so by cooking with love, so we can become good stewards of the earth by sowing with love—and loving intention.
I like the analogy of soil cultivation and what we’re sowing in our families, occupations and society, not only because it encourages reflection and assessment of the present, but because it also provides the opportunity to start over and plant the seeds we truly value.
By their works they shall be known.
About This Image
Title: Corn Field
File #: DC4934
Blunt, South Dakota
A few years back spent a week making a grand loop through South Dakota and Nebraska, the Northern Plains. One of the surprising delights of photographing in this area, aside from the grandeur of wide open spaces and dramatic skies, was the sparsity of telephone poles, fences and traffic. Another is photographing on the county roads where I would not see another car or person sometimes for half an hour or more.
Regarding this particular image, I was driving down the road looking as usual for the intersections of light, geometry and simplicity when I came upon this vista. I pulled over and walked about ten feet into the field. I took a wide shot, medium and closeup. It was as simple as it gets.
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