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Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Price to Pay for Such Beauty

"Within a radius of a mile, there are four or five farms for rent either for five or ten dollars a month. The houses can be lived in, and if one owned them (the price range is from two to three thousand), repairs could be done little by little. The ground is good bottomland. There are streams for fishing, and there is hunting. There are pines and black walnut and locust on the gentle hills, and there is pulpwood to be cut for selling and plenty of wood for the fires in winter. Taxes are low, and there are no gas or electric bills. But, and here is the rub, the nearest town, of 1,500 inhabitants, is twelve miles away with its church and schools and hospital. The larger towns of Martinsburgh and Winchester are each about thirty miles away. But it's surprising how much company one has, how neighborly people are. And the joy for the children in such surroundings! But there is a price to pay for all this beauty, and that price a willingness to accept the poverty of the people on the land. Old houses, oil lamps, wood heat, water to be carried in pails, the tattletale gray of clothes so washed, and the quiet, the solitude of life with neither radio, newspaper, nor telephone, . . . where the daily mail becomes the event of the day.

People are more afraid of such a life than they are of the atom bomb! And so Peter talked of agronomic universities, farming communes, so that people could go in groups, and in groups hold each other up. Man is not made to live alone; he is a social being. So where there is a crowd, they flock together. Peter used to say, "They are not communitarian; they are gregarious."

Let us hope that Maryfarm at Newburgh will give a taste for the simplicity of life on the land and the courage to face it, and that other Maryfarms throughout the country will be performing the same function. A place to make retreats, to learn to meditate, to think in the heart, "to be quiet and see that I am God," a place to learn to work, and a place to go from, as apostles, and make a life for the family."

On Pilgrimage,
July - August
By Dorothy Day