It’s not exactly the same thing, perhaps, but I think there are similarities – between nature’s winter fallowness and the winter flu. I had the stomach virus for seven days, followed immediately with the flu, which survivors tell me lasts about – seven days. Seems to be the case.

And with the flu I have yet to leave the house. Even the doctor didn’t want to see me – just called in a prescription and told me to stay home; that this stuff is highly contagious. Actually, I didn’t feel like going to the doctor’s office – or anywhere.

So I’ve been laying fallow.

When do we humans lay fallow?

Nature does it, every year, without fail – well, hopefully, we can do what we need to do to stop this severe warming trend, so that nature can continue to lay fallow without fail.

Seeds and trees and plants and some animals get a rest, a chance to rejuvenate before giving of themselves again so abundantly.

Even when we North Americans “rest” we are busy. “On vacation” we do lots of thrilling things; people even joke about needing a vacation after their vacation. I think it’s mostly when we are sick that we are fallow – when we really don’t do anything. And that’s only, of course, because we can’t do anything.

The first days I could only sleep. After that I could lie on the sofa, but discovered neither books or television or movies interested me. No distractions possible. Eventually, I could watch a movie, but not the news, and I couldn’t focus on reading anything. I don’t know how many days I didn’t even think about God’s good company. I forgot everything. I was fallow.

We busy North Americans find being sick very difficult – partly because it hurts, but I wonder if the hardest part is that our busy lives come to a shockingly sudden and helpless halt. All those things we need to do just can’t get done. This time, in one of those fevered dreams, I even dreamed about not being able to get things done.

When I began to move about again, the first thing I noticed about having been fallow was the taste of oatmeal. Now, I have oatmeal almost every morning – the old fashioned kind, that tastes like oats. But I realized on the first morning I ate oatmeal after eating nothing, that the oatmeal flavor was quite strong. I don’t think I’d really been aware of the taste of oatmeal for quite awhile.

The second thing I noticed was smells. I would be stopped in my tracks suddenly by a strong whiff of something ordinary that I don’t ordinarily even notice.

The third thing I noticed was the cedar trees. They seem so well-defined and rich in texture and intensely green. Some seem to have grown about six feet in the last week.

The fourth thing I noticed is that when I went to a formal prayer time again, I could just sit and be with God.

The fifth thing I noticed is that I’ve slowed down and am enjoying it. I don’t want to rev back up again.

And so there it is, another lesson from nature: Laying fallow is necessary. It brings life. Hopefully, we humans won’t wait for the winter flu to get in our fallow time.

18 February 2008