With grandchildren, for example, it’s fun taking them into the garden or the field to look for critters and talk about how they help make healthy soil. A small magnifying glass is a real asset.
With someone married into the family, ask what she had to learn about family expectations. What’s different about doing business among family and friends?
What stories would be helpful to share with a couple newly retired into town? Was their decision to move simply economic? Are they finding ways to add diversity in what seems to be a stayed community?
Even though people may not talk much about their spiritual lives, in what ways have they experienced the presence of God in their lives?
Are rural people willing to share their insights about the weather, the landscape, the topographical changes over the years? These, too, are important aspects of our culture.
A young bride told me how upsetting it was that one wall of their first home was actually part of the corral. The angst!
Another woman, recently widowed, was overwhelmed when a youth group volunteered to scrape and paint her fence – something that had been the pride of her husband.
Joys and sorrows, expressions of support, memories shared, hearts and ears open to listen and care. All of these give voice to what our rural spiritual values are. The stories are more profound than any Sunday sermon. Through them the Creator helps us understand what’s special about being rural. They show us how we can help each other discover values like joy, peace, hope, love.
While only a few individuals in the community can create more jobs for our youth, all of us can help them be proud of their rural roots. Gifts that last a life-time!