I learned a new phrase yesterday that I really like. It’s probably old hat to a lot of people, but to me it expresses a really cool idea. We were considering whether to participate in a fund-raising event by a nearby Roman Catholic Church, the Infant Jesus Shrine in Hurley. The person bringing it forward called it “friend-raising.” She cited the example of a Roman Catholic in another closer parish who attended a fundraiser we held in cooperation with the League of United Latin American Citizens because I had reached out to their pastor when his mother passed away. In a small town one does a lot of “friend-raising.”

In our garden this year we are raising squash (tons of it!) tomatoes and basil. We raised our children. We work to raise the spiritual consciousness of the people in the Church and our society. We raise pets and other domestic animals. We nurture them, we give them what they need to be healthy and happy, and in the end we expect to get something out of the deal. Friend-raising is similar. We attend to the relationships, we visit, we inquire, we serve and we reach out, and we expect to get a relationship in which there is mutuality and respect. These kinds of relationships are to be found at the groundwork of social living. They are essential to us. Without them we are hardly human.

Today I’ll be doing a bit of social farming. I’ll be taking a wonderful man from my parish out to Gila Hot Springs to visit old friends of his, and I’ll take out two 5-gallon buckets of fresh apricots. We’ll get a bottle of apricot wine and some green beans to put up in the fall, but more importantly, we will have nurtured relationships with people.

Maybe in the end it is our own souls we are farming.


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