Living in or on?

Some of us have little choice about where we live, others do have a choice. Some have no choice, and I should really write ‘many’, having no home, fleeing violence, war, persecution, hunger or desperately searching for some work. It is ever so easy to pontificate when one is part of the top 10% (probably more likely top 5%) wealth-wise in the world. There are luxuries we have that others do not have. We turn a tap on and drink the water; we go to the fridge and can put something together to eat. I am aware of our luxuries as I write.

Land has been an important part of my life for as far back as I can remember. Maybe being born on a farm gave that to me? I recall back in 1991 receiving a prophetic word about moving geographically. It impacted me greatly and the seeming imminence of it felt as if it was immediate. At 5.30am the next morning I got up walked the area, and can remember stopping at one of the corners saying to the town – don’t worry someone will come and look after you, considering your interests before their own. One Christmas I was in Paris, and in a dream I was taken to the bottom of the Eiffel tower. There Paris came to me and said, ‘People come here from all over the world. Romantic words are often spoken, engagements take place. But when will someone come here just for me, to love me for who I am?’ A short while later I woke with a tear-filled face, the pain of the land being very real.

So many conquests have been to possess land, to change the civilisation. Even a lot of tourism follows suit. Plant restaurants that cater for our taste buds, our culture, buy a second homeā€¦ The result is an enjoyment of the land, but a living ‘on’ the land. I could go on and comment on financial investments in countries that profit us but long-term impoverish others. I realise we live in a complex world (though the drop-out culture does appeal at times) and our feet certainly get dirty whatever direction we walk in. I am not knocking those elements per se, but simply relating the above examples to indicate that so often we see it as our right to something, and never connect with the land, other than as an observer. Sometimes that might be all we can do.

But, if at all possible, we need to live in the land. At this moment of time Gayle and I are immigrants in the land of Spain, but we are seeking to be in the land. To be in the land does connect one to the voice of the land, the cry of the land, the history, the pain, disappointments but also hope and destiny. To marry the land does bring about a phase of receiving from the land what is in it. It can affect one’s finances, even one’s health. But the long term issue is for the land to be affected.

We cannot – God does not and we cannot – control outcomes. We cannot override peoples’ choices but we can stand in prayer and stand in attitude and stand in humility and stand in persistence and stand, so that there is an interchange to the land, so that the land begins to gain the benefit of who one is in Jesus. The land begins to change; (bad) fruit that was once fruitful no longer grows; good fruit begins to appear, small at first then in greater measure.

We have had some major setbacks these past weeks. We have stood and drawn a line. The line has been walked over. The very words we have used (they shall not pass here) as we have stood have been literally spoken back on TV news – the ‘conquerors’ saying publicly ‘we have passed’. Even after 2015 and the incredible shifts noted by every newspaper after we prayed at the Valley of the Fallen; after going to Franco’s birth home in 2018 (11 hours away) and the government passing the next day the edict that they will move his remains from the Valley of the Fallen – we are back with the governments edict being stalled and resisted. I could enter a few other such examples, and truth is we are very sore indeed.

I could also outline other positives, some of which have been recorded even in the press beyond Spain.

There will be setbacks. But to live ‘on’ and not ‘in’ the land is something we have to resist. We have to stand but the standing is in the land.

I am not looking to trample on anyone’s convictions, but I consider that we all have to regularly ask if we are simply ‘on’ or are we ‘in’ the land.

And to those in the land. Stand. The day of evil does pass, even if not as soon as we would like.

6 thoughts on “Living in or on?

  1. This one speaks to me. Strongly. I am in the middle of trying to find the right person to whom I can pass on the land I have been in for the past 20 years. I have invested all that I have and more (I owe lots of money on this) to present it in the best way possible. I have tended it, worked for it, repaired it, managed it, stewarded it and fought for 5 years in and out of court to protect it. I have learned from it. Learned to manage less and let it live more. And the house and land (with the garden in full bloom) is stunning.

    Everyone loves it. No one wants it.

    People come through. They exclaim how the house (straw bale eco/healthy home) is a work of art. They call it a showpiece and wander around exclaiming in wonder. They breathe in the fresh air and marvel at the beauty of the gardens. They tell me how much they love it and want it. And then, nothing. Sometimes they come back 3 and 4 times. They are almost seduced by it all. They desire the life here. They speak about the feeling of calm and peace they experience here. And then, they bring along the one person, the parent or the friend or husband or somebody, who crushes their dreams and says ‘no’. It all staggers to an halt. That person sees the life in this place as offensive and frightening. And they are willing to crush the dream of their loved one in order to feel safe.

    Once again, this house somehow demonstrates the larger picture of where we are as a culture. We are attracted to life, many of us anyway, but are surrounded by structures, systems and even aesthetics of death (most landscape design is ecological death). We are aware when we stumble onto something that is about life rather than death. But it terrifies many. Life makes demands on us, death often seems easier. We tend to think we are more in control when we have reduced all down to rational designs and management systems.

    And here I sit, trying to manage my financial stress and anxiety. I need to move on. I will be unable to pay bills in , oh about 15 minutes. I finally know where I am going and why. I am ready to move on. But I sit and wait and wait for the right person to come along and have the courage to live. We are reducing the price on the land this week in hopes of attracting that person or at least making it more feasible for them. I have no way of putting a value on the property. The notion offends me but I cannot, at this point, afford to give it away. So who is the land for? Who is called to steward it in the next phase? Who is willing to put in the work to care for it and allow it to prosper – along with the birds and chipmunks and other wee creatures? I am ready to move onto the next bit of land, to restore it and allow life to return to something that has been degraded. But I must hand this off first.

    The seesaw of life/death in our culture has led us to a place of crisis. Death often seems so powerful and to many so desirable. Yes, those of us who seek life must stand and resist the systems that would destroy us all. The good news is that the land shows us that if we just leave it alone life comes back. Amazing. We stop managing and life happens. Maybe the prayers need to be about the end of our management of the land, the banishment of our need to be in control. Life is always there, just waiting for us to recognize it.

    Anyone want to buy my house? Please.

  2. a further thought on why we might prefer death. Just musing here.
    Death is certain. It is the most certain thing in our lives. It is a marked point towards which we all progress. We, as a culture, spend much time trying to manage that point – we try to ensure it will be comfortable, easy, experienced without pain, especially those of us who are privileged and have the bucks to do that. We constrain and manage many of the things that might lead to a difficult or painful ending. We are not always successful but we expend great effort and lots of money to do so. Of course, no none wants to be in pain or suffer, so we are strongly motivated in that quest.

    Life is much less certain. We cannot manage life. It escapes our confines. I planted real native wildflowers on this property. In contrast to the nursery bought hybrids the wildflowers do what they want, go where they want, spring up in unexpected places. They have a level of life the well behaved hybrids do not. The hybrids obey the rules handed to them – grow this large in this place, do not reproduce. And yet, look at how many gardeners prefer the hybrids as it allows them to ‘manage’ the garden more easily. No surprises. No plants challenging the garden layout.

    Life requires a tolerance for risk taking, for uncertainty, for unknowing and resting in that. I’m not saying we need to give up all engineering, though in terms of climate crisis resilience the way we have done engineering is a huge problem. Nor do we need to give up all management but we need to step back, step more lightly and trust the land, that will burst with life, to work with us. If we allow it.

    1. Ann – PROFOUND. Stewardship, caring for, respecting and releasing for the beneficial gift to others. Time for that person to come and connect.

    2. I am fascinated by two things in this process. First, this property exposes people. They may say they love life and are seeking it but if not, they are often exposed as not. The house almost demands truthfulness. And it can be costly to be here and involved with the house. My real estate agent just went into emergency surgery. Connected? Can’t prove it but I’ve seen a cost to many who have supported the property. That said, the property also attracts a like minded group of people who have given of their time and energy to see it prosper. Life is attractive to many but some reject it when they encounter it.

  3. Thankyou. I moved to where I live now about 6 years ago. It’s not somewhere I would have chosen to come. But over the years have been convinced it is where God wanted me. So I have walked the land I’m on and been challenged to love it. Hear it’s history and hopefully be part of bringing the Kingdom and healing to this place. What I sometimes forget is some of what I’m experiencing is because of the consequences of living in the land/being ‘part of it’ rather than just ‘on it’
    That brings comfort when I face the challenges I face, but also a reminder to continue to love the land I’m on.leave and contend for it. So thankyou

    1. Thanks Sharon for taking the time to read and comment. Also a help to me to stay focused when something connects with ‘real’ life.

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