Once upon a time, a very very long time ago, in the era of my teen years, I had this unsettling feeling that I was out of time and out of place. I enjoyed living in the modern world, the modern era, the modern way of life, but I had this deep yearning from within for simplicity. This yearning for simplicity had its vision imprinted on me, and even though I could not see it, I felt it had to do with the earth and with animals. My natural inclination was to conceptualize and name this feeling. It was the word “FARM”. We need to give names and shapes to the vapors that are within us. Just like our Soul needs our body to navigate this world, so too with the Divine Whisperings in our Heart. These Divine Whisperings start at the ethers, and hopefully with our cooperation culminate by becoming form in the material world. These Divine Whisperings, when heeded take us through the syllabus of our life’s lesson plans, growth, and evolution.
Even though I had this feeling and this urge, I did nothing about it. It was a time in my life when I had deeply discounted my feelings and their relevance to the quality of my life. They were just there, but it was my mind that had ruled supremely and definitively. ‘Who needed feelings anyway?’, was how I lived my life. Oh my Word! How did I make it through that period my life? Very stubbornly! Today, I would honor that feeling and visit a farm, spend some time on a farm, and maybe even live on a farm. Nevertheless, I am quite certain now that somewhere from deep within me a radio feeling frequency signal was being emitted that said F •A •R •M. I should also point out that the first eight years of my life were spent on a farm. They were glorious years indeed. Eve though I did nothing about this F •A •R •M desire, The Heavenly Realm was busy organizing and arranging my path toward F •A •R •M experiences. It was through the F •A •R •M experiences that I received joy, clarity, and eventual peace.
The first lesson on the F •A •R •M syllabus was a young gentleman whom I had met at a dance. He was an “aggie”, an undergrad student in the Faculty of Agriculture and was slated to take over his father’s farm, who had inherited it from his father. The farm was an entire section, or six hundred and forty acres. It was both a cattle ranch and a harvesting farm. That was a chunk of land and a chunk of responsibility.
I on the other hand was a business student who was going down the accounting path, because my mind told me that was the safe and logical way. People always needed and paid for accountants. Had I followed my Heart, I would have chosen a marketing major instead. I had also been drawn to psychology and considered it, but commerce had the strongest pull. Ironically, after I graduated and because of the economy, it took a while for me to find an apprenticeship job in the accounting industry. Meanwhile, one summer break I had apprenticed as a marketing director with a restauranteur who had four Italian restaurants/lounges in the city. He was so pleased with the events and their success that I had planned and executed, that he had offered me a job once I graduated one year later. What did I say, “NO”. Why? Two very logical reasons: one, I wanted a professional accounting designation because I wanted the prestige of having “letters after my name”, and two, I was very rigid and had blinders on. As it turned out, a couple of years down the line, I had a falling out with the accounting path. Oh my Word! Lord have mercy on my stubbornness and please gently remove my blinders. Amen and Thank You. Meanwhile, others had strongly urged me to go down the education path because of its stability and long summer vacations. That did sound appealing, but partly (well honestly, mostly) out of rebellion, i negated that path, because I wanted to choose and not be told which way to go! So there! There is that ego again. Another family member suggested I consider psychiatry, but the thought of being in school for years with all those science classes just did not sit well with me. In hindsight, all these paths and vocations amalgamated and have been developed, either in personal study, the situations I found myself in, or me eventually listening to my Heart and following my bliss.
Back to the aggie undergrad bachelor and the dance. We danced. We went out a few times. He was sweet, gentle, and kind. Then Easter break came along and he went back to his family and the farm which was a couple of hundred kilometers away. But on Eater morning when I opened the front door I was de-lighted, surprised, and frightened. There was a box of chocolates, a stuffed bunny, and a sweet card with sweet words. He and everything was so sweet and gentle. Looking at these gifts, holding these gifts, feeling these gifts, eating the chocolates, and reading the words, did something to me. Even though I was not aware of this consciously, some deep part of me felt his intentions and his envisioning me as his his wife, co-cattle-rancher, and harvesting the land partner. It is like my deeper and subconscious self said, “we are taking over from here”, and I immediately shut down and distanced my self from him. It was not a conscious decision, it was me acquiescing to something greater than me and my logic. In hindsight my deep inside vision was not in alignment with his vision and our journey ended immediately. But I still was not at total peace on the inside that F •A •R •M was not the path for me. It was not yet a closed case nor a completed syllabus. Thus, I received another F •A •R •M Gift.
The next experience on the F •A •R •M course syllabus was something I never could have dreamed up of myself. I got a summer job at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in central Alberta whose website describes it as “an open-air museum where costumed role-players recreate the life of early Ukrainian pioneers that settled in east central Alberta from 1892-1930” (http://www.history.alberta.ca/ukrainianvillage/). Various original buildings (farm houses, churches, stables, granaries, school houses, blacksmith shop, town shops) have been transported to and restored at the museum site. The role players represent the actual personages of the buildings. I was “randomly assigned” the role Mrs. Anytsia Slemko, a woman married to a farmer by the name of Hrytz Slemko circa 1910. They had six children. They lived in a one room wood and clay house with a thatched roof, a dirt floor, a clay oven, a wood burning stove, and a table like bed padded with a straw mattress upon which everyone slept together, all eight people. Great care was taken to recreate authenticity, and historical accuracy and integrity – down to the black lace up ankle boots, long black wool skirt which showed just a little bit of the ankle, white plain bloomers, white button up blouse, and a head kerchief which all the married women wore.
For five to six days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm I was a role playing married farm wife with six children – there was a role playing husband, but no children though – living in a clay house with no electricity, indoor plumbing, or a bathroom. We did have two real cows, several pigs and a small garden. We were literally transported back about one hundred years. Beyond amazing was this setup! I had a pretend husband. I hauled water in. I cooked on a wood burning oven. I made bread in the clay oven. And, once a week, on Saturday’s usually so that the house would be fresh and clean for the Lord’s Day, I made a manure mixture (cow manure mixed with water) in a bucket and then spread the potion with a broom over the clay floor in the house. It kept the dust down and believe it or not, the flies out. I loved watching people’s faces, especially the children when they saw or heard of this ritual. Sometimes, I even asked the visitors if they would like to go with me to pick out the best cow manure pies! A common question that many visitors would ask with a wink was how we had the time and privacy to “make” six children if everyone slept together on the same bed in a one room house. We would pretend blush, be very shy about it, grin, and say something vague about meeting in the barn or that I would stay longer when I carried lunch and water out to Mr. Slemko on the field. Everyone would chuckle. It was clean and simple education and entertainment. Some would ask about my formal education, and I would reply back in very broken English that “Skul not for woman. Woman have house, children, husband, farm to take care of. No time for skul. Too much work learn to read. Husband read.”
Even tough I had alternate husbands, there was one in particular who stands out in my memory and with whom I had “interesting” dynamics. He was an “authentic” Ukrainian, and not the second, third, or fourth generation watered down assimilated kind. He was a “real” Ukrainian. He was a veterinarian in Ukraine and had just emigrated to Canada. This was his first job and a way to acclimate before he took his Canadian veterinary certification exams. He was about ten years older than I and he teased me, a lot. He took the role playing to the extreme and would often say, “Wife make me some pyrohy. Wife, I want borscht for lunch. Woman, there is no water in the house. Go fetch me some water.” Or, “Woman sweep the house.” Oh & arrgh! This would send my blood curdling since I had been a flaming feminist at that time. So much so that when a gentleman/stranger opened the door for me, I would purposefully not go through that door, but open myself the other double door, go through it, and say to him, “This is the eighties/nineties, us women can do it ourselves.” Oh my! Lord have mercy, times three, on me and all those kind souls that I had been so cruel to.
One time this teasing “husband’s” comments sent me into such a huffy puffy inner dirt devil storm that I huffed, puffed, and stomped out of “our” little clay one room house with only two windows**. I fumed down the gravel road, raising the dust behind me and not knowing where in particular I was going. Anywhere where he was not. Coincidentally enough, I found myself in one of the many churches that are on the grounds. I walked in and the church was empty. I had God and God’s Ear all to my self. I vented to God. I told God just how unreasonable, chauvinistically pretentious, and demanding my pretend husband was. After I calmed down, God said to “Go back. Your life lesson and semester are not over yet.” I listened to God. I obeyed God. I made peace with my pretend husband. I completed my role as Mrs. Anytsia Slemko to summer’s end.
I wanted the F •A •R •M life. I wanted life one hundred years back. I got what I wanted, and I realized didn’t like it. After the aggie gentleman encounter and the summer job as Mrs. Anytsia Slemko circa 1910, I was at peace on the inside that the Universe had indeed not made a mistake by letting me incarnate in the wrong era. Nothing was off course. Everything was on course. All was well. Now I could relax, be at peace, and fully embody my present place and state in life. How great and wonderful is that. It was a Gift beyond measure.
May you too find peace and joy in your journey of growth.
- Abundant blessings,
- Irena As I Am and Mudryk, Co-Sojourners
- March 1, 2018
**NOTE** The reason the house had only one window which faced west for sunlight and warmth was that in their former homeland of Rus, current day Ukraine and under the Austro-Hungarian Empire there was a tax on windows. The more widows a house had, the higher the taxes. The new immigrants, not yet fully knowing the British laws of Western Canada thought the same taxation rules applied and thus minimized the number of windows. Governments are so creative when it comes to taxation.