A few summers ago on the way to a big camping trip I saw a sight I had never seen: a farmer setting his field on fire. He sat confidently atop his tractor – no special gear that I could tell, no hurry, either – with flames shooting out behind him leaving a wake of charred, smokey blackness.
What in the world? I thought to myself. He’s burning his fields?
I’m a tropical island girl, so, let me tell you: I know nothing about farms or farming. While my initial reaction was shock and awe, I got my husband to slow down a bit and, while I watched, I recognized there was obvious intention to what he was doing. The fire, while flaming, was a controlled one. He was driving in a very methodical pattern of straight lines (similar to how men like to mow the lawn) and within a set of boundaries that were seemingly planned in advance. The 1920s farmhouse just up the hill from him and his tractor? Totally safe – no one running around outside screaming or worried. The fields adjacent to his work area? Also totally unharmed – no neighbors in a tizzy or firetrucks rushing into to help.
With a quick google of ‘why do farmers burn their fields’, here’s what I learned:
- Each year all kinds of farmers intentionally burn off their fields to prepare for the next cycle of crops.
- The process, called agricultural burning, happens after harvest (typically in the summertime dry season) and rids the land of excess straw and stubble.
- Burning is a necessary part of farming because it clears the field and gets it ready for the next cycle of production.
I tell you this because, if you’re wired to be a producer like I am, typically when summer arrives, I find myself feeling like a big portion of my life is being set on fire. Not my whole life, of course… but the mommy portion of my life where I revel in the schedule and order and accomplishment and have to’s the school year naturally imposes on the family.
I can’t help it: I like structure and I thrive in hustle. So, unfortunately, summer break always brings a bit of angst. On one hand I get excited the kids are off from school and get a break, then I think to myself, “Oh my gosh! The kids are off of school and… what the heck are they going to do all summer… and how am I going to get anything done?”
Yet, when I’m reminded of farmers burning their fields to encourage better growth in the next season, I feel a little better about the burning season summer break brings. The mommy part of my life that’s planted every fall with a new crop of teachers and schedules and sports and activities – that’s a section of my lot that has been taxed and worked hard and produced all it can by June. So, the burning – well, I’ve come to see it as a good thing.
When the flames of late nights, sleeping in, dirty feet, watermelon drenched faces, unlimited popsicles and unplugged moments with my nose in a book beside my daughter burn the structured mommy portion of my life – restoration happens.
When I’m forced to stop being a mommy that drives production and work and performance, health and life return to my soil.
This is the burning season, sisters. Instead of struggling for order and production, let’s be thankful it has arrived. Let’s scrap the mommy must-do lists… let’s burn the expectations and the demands we place on ourselves to be Pinterest-level home-keepers, and let’s let our mommy ground go fallow.
Let’s be playful – let’s laugh until we cry – let’s see our children with new eyes… eyes that recognize we will never be in this place again. And, as we feel the burn, let’s stay strong by remembering the promise of Isiah 61:3:
He’ll give us beauty for these ashes –
and, in our righteousness
we will become like great oaks He has planted for His glory.
Elisha Joyce is an island girl from Guam living in Lake Oswego, OR with her husband, three kids, one dog, one cat, one ball python and a leopard gecko. She wears many hats: actress; treasure-hunter; writer; maker and eater of good food; branding expert and social brand strategist. You can find her on FB and Instagram @rebelgrain.