This afternoon was the annual "Soil and Seed Mass," held this year at a parish in Gilman (about a half hour north of us). Bishop J. Peter Sartain was down from Joliet, and he was accompanied by four priests from surrounding parishes (including ours).
Everyone in attendance brought a big bag or box of various seeds and/or a sample of soil from the garden. After the homily, Bishop Sartain had us hold up our soil and seeds so he could deliver a solemn blessing over them. He then walked all over the church, accompanied by an altar boy, sprinkling the soil and seeds with holy water.
After Mass, everyone gathered in the parish hall for a pot luck supper. Our children excitedly told the bishop about our new goat kids, and he seemed impressed. We chatted and got caught up with several families we know from the surrounding area, including the elderly couple which sold us our goat buck last year. (Every time they see us at Mass, they ask us how our goats are doing.)
I think what impressed me the most was how many rural families came together for this whole event, and what a wonderful display of faith and community life it was. This was the first time I'd attended one of these, and it struck me as being an essential part of the "glue" which makes rural life so special. Hard to believe spring is here, and in just a few weeks we'll all be out planting. And watching for these blessed seeds to start emerging from the ground.