Blesses All Creation: The Eucharistic Gesture of Thanks
I am really not one to post “The Thanksgiving Blogpost,” a move that I recoil from by nature, repulsed as I am by the maudlin, the saccharine, and the melodramatic. But this year is an exception. You’ll see why.
First of all, I am thankful that our farm had a good year. We had pretty decent weather, for the most part, and though we had a lot of rain, we were spared any flooding in our lower garden until November (which I hope will have subsided by planting time next spring). The previous year was a bad year: flooding, drought, and late and early frosts. Somehow, we avoided a wildfire. I attribute this year’s success, in part, to our cow, Fiona, and the manure with which she has enriched our compost and our supply of BD 500, horn manure preparation. We’ve only kept goats, chicken, and hogs before getting Fiona in summer 2020, and the difference in soil/compost quality is marked. I also think this has something to do with this being our sixth year at this location. In the documentary The Biggest Little Farm (which I recommend EVERYONE see), my biodynamic forebear Alan York observes that the seventh year on a BD farm is when the farmer really starts to see miracles. So I look forward to next year.
I am also thankful that we had a tremendous storm in mid-August, and though we didn’t have power for most of two weeks, the house and barn weren’t damaged. Many trees fell, mostly black walnut and pine, and my chainsaw was put to the test. But now we have firewood to last through the winter. It’s worth the two weeks without power: a windfall in every respect.
In addition, I am thankful for losing friends. I know this sounds weird, but losing friends has been somehow liberating. It’s not as if I cut ties with long-standing friendships (I don’t think I have), but I have fallen away from “friends” I became acquainted with through social media—people I have actually communicated with in-person or on the telephone. I imagine Aristotle would call these “friendships of utility.” My wife has told ever me since she’s known me what a lousy judge of character I am, but I’ve been this way since childhood. I must have picked up this quality in the stars on my way down. Often over the years, I have pondered Jacques Derrida’s invocation of Aristotle—“O my friends, there is no friend”—in the former’s book Politics of Friendship (the “politics” part I think I might finally be starting to understand). Likewise have Dougie Maclean’s words in “Caledonia” haunted me: “Lost the friends that I needed losing / Found others along the way.” All is well.
I am likewise thankful that I can cure and smoke my own bacon and make mead from the honey provided by my bees. These things actually require no explanation.
I am thankful for house church. The pandemic has taught me one thing about church hierarchies: they’re useless. With churches closed and bishops acquiescent to government power, we had no choice but to take things into our own hands. Literally. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t delve into here, other than to say what a blessing it has been.
But the thing I am most thankful for is the healing of my wife, Bonnie. This requires some explanation.
In April of this year, right around Easter, Bonnie came to me and told me she was having pretty extreme menstrual cycles—blood clots the size of her fist, among other things. And her cycles were coming every two weeks and not every four. At first, we thought it might be menopause—we are in our fifties after all—but after a week or so reports started to appear that some women who had received the mRNA v@ccines had been reporting similar effects. Only Bonnie hadn’t had any injections. Then Bonnie showed me a news story saying some unv@ccinated women who had been in contact with those recently v@ccinated were manifesting some of the same symptoms. A couple weeks later, I heard from a close friend, a woman just a couple of years younger than Bonnie, and she said that she, also unjabbed, started experiencing the same issues after her husband was v@ccinated. “Why is it my husband gets the shot,” she jokingly texted me, “and I get the side-effects?” The two are one flesh, I suppose.
We didn’t know what to think—what scientist or physician would even investigate?—but the entire thing looked to be more than coincidence. Bonnie’s symptoms continued for a couple of months (as did our friend’s) before settling down, though the sheer volume of blood she was losing made her anemic. She treated herself with homeopathy and herbs (as she has done all through our life together), and then she made an appointment with her gynecologist just to check on things.
The doctor found that her uterus was uncommonly large. We knew this already after having been told of it by a doctor attending Bonnie when she delivered our seventh child in an emergency c-section (all of our previous children had been born at home with a midwife). Then followed a series of tests and procedures before we finally discovered that Bonnie had cancer of the uterus, rare enough, but even rarer for women whose wombs have so much experience.
We found this out in late September, just before our farm’s Michaelmas festival. Bonnie immediately increased the alkalinity of her diet. Our food is pretty clean anyway, but she forged ahead and altered what needed to be altered in her diet (she has so much more willpower than I do). Last week, Bonnie had surgery on the damaged organ that had bestowed so much life, so many lives; the surgeon also biopsied a lymph node and an ovary that both seemed a little misshapen.
Needless to say, this has been challenging for all of us in the family Martin. I tried, successfully for the most part, to avoid imagining what I would do if things turned out for the worst—how to run the farm by myself without my beloved partner, how to homeschool the last few children (the youngest just turned eleven), and how to survive in a psychological and spiritual wasteland. But I did my best to be present to the moment and not give in to fear or despair.
But this story has a happy ending. Tuesday of this week, just as I returned home with my two youngest boys from basketball practice, Bonnie received “the phone call.” She took the call on our porch (out here in the wilderness of Waterloo Township we get terrible reception) while the rest of us ate dinner. When she came in, we all looked at her. “It’s good news,” she said: the cancer was gone and it wasn’t in the ovary or lymph node. Bonnie, who had not cried or expressed dismay through the entire ordeal, finally broke down in tears. And so did I. And this is that for which I am most thankful.
Below is a song Bonnie and I recorded (the only one) about twenty-three years ago. I only remember it was then because our eldest daughter. Mae, who is soon to turn twenty-four, was a baby at the time and we only had two hours to drive to the studio, record, and get home before Mae needed to nurse. The song, written by Bonnie, is about the birth of our son, Tommy, and a dream Bonnie had the night before he was born. In the dream, Bonnie saw a woman in a blue mantle like a shepherd’s cloak. She was holding a staff or crook and directing a herd of white horses that would charge up and down the sides of a valley, their hooves thundering. When Bonnie awoke, she was in labor: the thunderous sounds of the horses were her contractions. Her womb has always been a miraculous vessel. On the song, Bonnie plays twelve-string guitar and sings (she has the voice of an angel) while I accompany on mandolin and six-string guitar. I have no idea who put it on the internet, but it’s also available on Spotify for some reason. O my friends, the world, this eucharistic and sacramental reality, imbued with sophianic splendor, is a strange and beautiful thing.
Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine.