The Sin of Fallow Land

Fallow Land

or, the miracle of soil, water, and sun…

or, storage units and empty bellies…

First a word or two about sin, it can mean:

1)to be without a share in 2) to miss the mark 3) to err, be mistaken 4) to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong 5) to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law.

Seems like we have lost the full meaning of this word, reducing it to an individual’s moral failure. You know the old rule, “don’t drink, cuss, smoke, or chew; or date girls that do.” And then we neglect the sin of nations and systems and cultures (which sometimes cause the sins of the individual).

Secondly, a word about fallow. It means the leave land uncultivated or not plowed/sown/planted. Land that is not used. Which is really a shame.

It’s a shame because a really miraculous thing happens on a piece of land when you combine the soil with water and sunlight. The miracle – food fit for human consumption grows, or food to feed animals that produce food fit for human consumption grow, or the system of soil, water, and sunlight produces by-products that make the soil more fertile and more able to produce food fit for human or animal consumption. It really is an amazing process.

I drive a lot in my job and get to see much of south central Texas. As far east as Nixon and as far west as Uvalde and all points in between. In my travels I see a lot of food producing land and probably an equal amount of fallow land. During my travels last week, I came across a piece of land for sale and was compelled to take a picture because:

  1. The 5 acre lot appeared very fertile. The perimeter was guarded by large oaks and pecan (food) trees, a few large oak trees anchored the center of the lot, and the bulk of the land was covered by tall, green grass (which is delectable food for cows, goats, and sheep which can be converted into delicious steaks, cabrito burgers, or lamb chops. In the process of converting tall, green grass into tasty meat products, these animals deposit a rich fertilizer on the land making it more fertile still. It really is an amazing process!).
  2. This 5-acre lot pictured above is situated in a part of San Antonio that has a high percentage of food insecurity among the inhabitants. I have read that 1 in 4 children in Bexar County (metro SA) live in a constant state of food insecurity (no certainty about the when’s and where’s of the next meal), this is a maddening statistic. And this piece of land is one of many for sale in this part of town…
  3. This 5-acre lot is going to be converted. At the moment it is fallow, which is a shame because it could be miraculously providing food for empty bellies. This 5 acres of land, containing all of the ingredients of a miraculous system, is going to be converted to a Storage Unit Facility. Trees bulldozed and grass and soil covered with concrete, asphalt, and quickly constructed metal buildings so people can put their excess shit in them. What a shame.

So back to the sin of fallow land…

In two of the Gospels (Matthew & Luke), Jesus tells two very similar parables. A landowner, or king, leaves his country. He appoints 3 stewards to care for what belongs to him in his absence. Two of the stewards are bold and intelligent, doubling what they were in charge of. The third, cautiously let his charge lay fallow and safe. The landowner returns and learns of the status of what belongs to him; he rewards the bold stewards by doubling what they had. The third steward was punished.

The principle of this parable is that the landowner, or king, gives things or places to people and expects them to be used for his purposes, the greater good where all are considered and cared for.

Is it a stretch to think that someone was graced, or gifted with a beautiful lot on the side of the road that could be a blessing to many? And could it be that when one ignores or misuses a gift that could be used to bless others, it is a sin?

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