On Leaving Montana

Eco-Stewards Intern Dave Grace stacked hay, repaired a chicken coup and built an Earthship-style garage and goat-milking barn during his stay at Greenwood Farm this summer. He is a sustainable agriculture major at Warren Wilson College.

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to Greenwood Farm and Montana for a while. I have a lot to say about my time here and the thoughts I’ve been having, but I won’t be able to provide much detail in 500 words—so I will just outline the basis for these thoughts and provide a few examples that offer a glimpse into the value I’ve found in joining the Graber family, if only temporarily, in their work and lives.

My Christianity is founded upon resistance to the implications of The Fall while trying to stay attentive to the spirit within me and the signs of the promise of redemption around me. The basis for this is in wild nature—God’s original intention for humanity as expressed in Genesis. For me, this is where the discussion of Christianity and the environment is centered: the fundamental breakdown in human relations and alienation from Earth characterized by The Fall. When it comes down to distilling this theology into practice, it is a matter of creating egalitarian relationships, based in wildness, that are human to human and human to nature. This is an expression of love that is not ideological or fantastic but an experienced reality in alignment with the highest expression of love in God’s grace.

My time at Greenwood Farm has been highly beneficial to me. I see relationships in this family that demonstrate an intention of loving relationship. This intention extends to Greenwood Farm and to involvement in the wider community—from the Crow Hymns Project to the Bighorn Valley Health Center. In short, I really appreciate the genuine respect and care that I felt from this family.

Dave Graber (left) teaches Crow drumming to Dave Grace (right) and other Eco-Stewards participants.

Here at Greenwood Farm, I’ve assisted with many projects: construction of an Earthship-style garage and goat-milking barn, using tires packed with sand, clay and cob for its walls; stacking hay bales and mowing grass; chicken coop repair; leveling an area for a bunkhouse floor; and preparing barrels for hot water storage. This work has proven to be educational for me, especially the Earthship construction. It has offered me an experience of reclaiming an industrial waste (tires) to put to other uses that have the potential to increase self-reliance and community responsibility. I find the necessity of work troubling in civilization, as its production focus is misleading from a wild state of communion in nature. However, there seems to be a way of subverting work’s aims if this necessity is understood and does not become a force of domestication.

Dave Grace (front, red shirt) and Dave Graber (back, red shirt) begin construction on the Earthship structure made from reclaimed tires.

As I leave this internship, I am looking forward to getting in touch with Mi Media Naranja in North Carolina to further study these intimate connections between nature and Christianity. But first, I’m heading to Alaska, where I look forward to fishing for salmon.

6 thoughts on “On Leaving Montana

  1. heather

    Hi Dave — this is a beautiful post and wonderful window into your experiences at Greenwood Farm. I especially appreciate your sharing some of your Christian eco-faith journey — and love that is “an experienced reality in alignment with the highest expression of love in God’s grace.” – It struck me that your last name, in fact, is “grace” and how central this grace is to your theology. Very appropriate. Happy journeys to Alaska and beyond. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future. Peace,

  2. Dave, thanks for these reflections. So many powerful things to think on in here – and a beautiful charge to “stay attentive to the spirit within me and the signs of the promise of redemption around me.”

  3. Rob

    Dave – you rock! Thanks for all you’ve done this summer and beyond. “Keep on rockin’ in the free world”, and “long may you run”, Mr. Young, Mr. Grace. 🙂

  4. Kristen

    Hi Dave– beautifully written. Our lives have lost a significant spark without you and Gerard around. Caleb plays UNO with Grandma. The hay stack has been transported to a little herd of cows in Busby… again, somehow the work of all that stacking providing a little nourishment for the natural world? We wish you a wonderful experience in AK and return to your studies in NC. Big smile!

  5. Evie

    Dave, you make me think of Henry David Thoreau 🙂 That’s a compliment!! Your thoughts on the relationship of Christianity to nature are so powerful. How lucky you were to have gotten this internship! It seems like you’ve been having a very incredible and meaningful summer with our friends at Greenwood Farm, so I’m so happy for you!

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