Friday, March 24, 2006

Once You Set Your Hand to the Plow...

Luke 9:62 (NEB) To him Jesus said, "No one who sets his hand to the plow and then keeps looking back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Well, I don’t know about entering the kingdom, or Vaikuntha as some call it. I will probably have to get a mercy exemption. I do know about plowing. I used this metaphor to explain to the psychiatrist at UPMC that if I commit to the transplant process, I will adhere to all the post operative protocols

The thing with plowing is all the decisions and research is done before plowing begins. What to plant, where to plant it, when in theory, and when the soil conditions are right to actually plow. Getting your source of traction, type of plow, sufficient fuel – all those things.

Once you start though, as you make the first pass, in order to get a straight furrow (which has practical value, and is a point of honor amongst farmers), you can't look back. You totally have to focus on lining up and looking forward. You need to be totally committed.

From personal experience, I grew up on tractors rather with animal traction, and plowed fields 1/2 mile long. The land had been divided into grids prior to settlement so it is very orderly. We would pace in from one side of the field and set a flag you could see from the other end, then go there and pace in an equal amount. This would be the starting point. Once you started, any lack of focus would turn into a wiggle in the furrow. You would line up the radiator cap at the front of the tractor with the flag and totally keep them in alignment the entire way.

Another problem is curvature of your eyeball -- you don't see the flag where it actually is. Even if you keep the cap and flag lined up, at the end of the field, you will see a smooth, but slightly curved furrow.

In order to keep a straight furrow, you would pick a third point, on the horizon, and keep all three points aligned. If you did this, as you plowed through the field, you would find yourself seemingly constantly making incremental changes to keep the 3 points in alignment, but at the end, the furrow would be straight.

You couldn't look back, both from the aspect of not being able to unplow a field, and the straightness of the plowing. Agricultural concepts are alien to modern cultures, so this may be theoretical to most, but in Jesus’ time, people understood his meaning. In the devotee’s cosmology, Balarama carries a plow, and the bull, who pulls the plow, is Dharma.

We need to pay close attention to our daily lives, the immediacy of where we are. We also should keep in mind that which is front of us, both within our lives (the flag at the other end of the field) and our relationship to God and broader society, the point on the horizon.


Post a Comment

<< Home