Bonjour, I’m Claire, and I’m French. I like to say that when I applied to be a Fall Servant at BF, I was looking for “a farm-community to garden with Christ.” After traveling on my own and farming for several months, I felt the need to join a community with whom I could share both my faith and agroecological practices.
It was a blessed period for me in the sense that everything was unexpected! First of all, my stay at Bethlehem Farm changed my perspective on my future, deepened the relationship I had with Jesus, and broke the boundaries of the “impossible.” In the middle of the Appalachian Mountains, in the forest turning red and yellow and taking on the colors of autumn, I saw God every day in the perfection of Creation. I was mainly gardening alone and in silence, outside, all day. I’m usually very social and at first I wondered how I could appreciate so much time alone. But I was not alone; these awesome days spent outside were in the presence of Christ. I never had so much time to speak heart-to-heart to my Loving God. We often say that Nature is the fifth Gospel! I saw that! By listening to Him and looking at his Creation through the forest, bees, and in the soil itself, I learned that Nature is perfect and also needs time. What a lesson of humility. Plants need time to grow, soil needs time to regenerate, and humans need time to be shaped as mountains are by God. It’s not necessarily slow but it requires patience.
My stay at Bethlehem Farm was blessed and unexpectedly awesome! I also saw God Himelf. With a current caretaker, we decided to start some days with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. What a gift! By joining BF I wanted to be gathered in the name of Jesus with other brothers and sisters and here He is. He came Himself to us. And so I thought, Christ is really always available, always waiting for us and looking after us. Here He is, right now. We simply need to do the first step, to open our hearts, to be available, and God will do the rest. And I praise God for what He did in my life during this time. I was at the end of my studies, full of ideas and with the desire to promote organic agriculture, care for Creation, and give attention to the poor. I really wanted to be involved in those domains and at the same time I was somehow afraid. Afraid to start, to do something too big for me that seemed impossible! I found everything impossible, even starting a company to defend these values, to get a piece of land and start gardening, to actually enter into action (what else?). Yes, it is impossible alone and that’s precisely the reason why Christ has put the desire in me, because He needs me for His work, and I need Him! The ministry of Bethlehem Farm really helped me to get over these fears. I realized how impossible it is to build a building alone, to cultivate the entire garden alone, to wake up every morning and find the energy to assist our poor neighbors without the grace of God. But the good news is that we are not alone! And God calls us to do things impossible to our eyes; He enters our lives and is our Help. I left the Farm with an inner desire to dedicate my life to daring to do seemingly impossible things. It won’t be easy but it will be with Christ.
Besides the time and work I offered to the community, I was looking for a job in France. This time of searching woke up uncertainty, fear, and impatience and yet, as a friend had advised to me, I seriously involved Christ, Mary, and Joseph in the search to really listen to them instead of following my desires only. The graces this brought me are peace, hope, perseverance, and patience. And at the same time I clearly mentioned my demand, letting them know that I feel urged to act and promote an agriculture of life. Now I surrender to the God’s time, trusting Him and praising Him for the life He gave me. I feel that sometimes we need to have our eyes opened to see all the good and all the chances we have.