Wednesday Quotes
Time to Plow Again
May 18, 2016

Spring Plowing

“Remember the time has come to plow again.” Hesiod, Works and Days

Something deep within us stirs. We feel that spring should be more than just different weather outside. Sure it changes how we dress; and now we have to mow the lawn. Baseball season returns, and flowers bloom.

Yet we sense that more should change. Such a dramatic awakening in all the natural world, must involve us too. Shouldn’t human life be part of the larger cycle of life? Does not that which moves the birds to sing and the buds to swell likewise move us…to do something?

But to what are we moved?

In Hesiod’s command to remember, there is an implicit warning: we can forget. We can forget, even while signs are all around us, that the time has come to plow again. For all of us.

The book of Genesis has God settle man in a garden “to cultivate and care for it.” But what does this mean, especially for us today?

I for one am convinced that I have some remembering to do: somehow my human identity and vocation is to be one who cultivates. And I have not yet realized what this demands. Surely there is even more to it than putting seeds in the earth and tending them.

Yet perhaps putting seeds in the ground is a great place to begin, and to reflect. So that we might learn again who we are, and what spring is calling us to be, year after year.

Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead.

Image: Carl Larsson (1853-1919)

Leave a Reply


  1. Thanks John!

    1. You’re welcome. You and your people know something about plowing…

  2. Do you have a list anywhere of preferred translations of these works? If I wanted to read Hesiod’s Works and Days, what would be a better translation or edition to begin? Thank you.

    1. Donna, Thanks for asking. Eventually I plan to have a resource where I will provide here a way to acquire the various texts that I quote. Regarding Hesiod’s Works and Days, I do not know the translations well enough to recommend one over another. I like the edition I have, which has his three major works: Theogony, Works and Days, and Shield, translated by Apostolos Athanassakis, by Johns Hopkins press.

      1. Thank you. A resource page would be very helpful!

  3. You taught your freshman this past semester, Dr. Cuddeback, to not just accept but to see for themselves how cultivating our knowledge of God is our final cause. I just want you to know that you have at least inspired me to pursue my final cause with growing fervor. You have inspired me to not forget this spring. You have inspired me to cultivate myself.

    I would be amazed if the majority of my fellow freshmen hadn’t received the same kind of inspiration in your classroom.

    You have cultivated your students superbly well, Dr. Cuddeback, and have taught them at least the basics of how to become good cultivators themselves. Thank you for that. In at least this respect you are certainly not forgetting anything; you are certainly fulfilling your human identity and vocation as one who cultivates.

    1. I am humbled and grateful for your words. May we continue to hoe the row together.

  4. There is a mysterious harmony between biological life and life of the mind, and further yet between order of nature and order of grace.
    The command to increase and multiply applies to all of them. Therefore nature itself points the way to a docile mind by parabolic suggestions.

  5. Your words are great, and it’s obvious that you “sow” and “cultivate” a lot more than seeds – you are cultivating all of your students, whether in actual college, or through the ICC lectures or Sofia Symposium. I’m so happy you “appeared” in my life – and my later-in-life studies. But Spring is truly a special time of a re-awakening of the earth and a time in our lives to make some changes. I’m not into true “gardening” – but DO enjoy planting some flowers, pulling some weeds, spreading some mulch – just being outside and communing with Nature! Thank you for helping bring this to life in me -and I’m sure in many others.

    1. Dear Ginger, Thank you very much for your generous words. And ‘planting some flowers, pulling some weeds, spreading some mulch’ sure sounds like ‘true gardening’ to me!

  6. The cultivator. Beautiful reflection