Life is meant to be messy.
Just this morning I offered “tractor boy” ice cream for breakfast in hopes that my being away might go more smoothly.
It went against everything in my being, but the thought of his tears as I left erased all the good I’ve done, or so I thought.
He asked for mama’s milk and said, “I need green veggies to make my booboo better”. “Where did you learn that, tractor boy?” “My heart”, he said.
Who’s his heart? I am, for at least a little while longer.
I’m headed to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky with the sisters who are coming alongside me as I become an Ecumenical Benedictine Oblate.
My husband encourages me knowing how hard the patriarchy and capitalism can be on this farmwife’s heart. My girls help me pack and load the car. They seem to already know why this is so important.
My oldest son doesn’t fully understand, but listens while I explain childhood trauma and privilege in ways he may never fully get, but like his father can use knowledge to do less harm.
The teachings of the Benedictine life allows me to understand unpaid physical and emotional labor in a way that’s good for my soul and mental health. It makes me a better human, connects me to God in ways I never knew possible.
Forgiveness and Social Justice Spirituality will be the topics for learning while I am away.
I pull away from the farm knowing that I’ll return grounded and inspired, prepared and messy in all the right ways.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist