Nature’s Abundance Is Boundless
by Donavon L Riley

The land of Ireland, still ancient and wild in a few places, holds tales that stretch back to the dawn of civilization. In one corner of this wondrous expanse, a faerie tree, two centuries old, stood as a sentinel over a world digging up and tearing out its roots. On July 2nd, the chainsaws roared, and the tree fell, making way for migrant housing. The news, like a whisper on the wind, fluttered through the digital corridors of X, but beyond that, silence. In a culture that prizes utility and expediency over the sacred, such silence is no surprise. A voice in the digital void mourned, “When the fairy tree is felled, there will be famine again in Ireland.” The relentless march of modernity casts long shadows over the old magic so many once held dear.

As a consequence, famine, a familiar specter haunting both our history and our present, looms large. We live under the constant threat of scarcity, orchestrated by those who thrive on its narrative. Their faces are regularly on the television, forecasting doom for the planet and the human race. They preach the dangers of overpopulation while pushing policies that suffocate farmers, ranchers, and those who want to live primarily off the fruits of the earth. Their gospel of scarcity extends to every facet of life—food, oil, energy, jobs. Fertility, in their eyes, is a disease to be eradicated. This is madness, for nature’s abundance is boundless.

One might ask, if abundance is real, why do people starve? The answer lies in the systems of control that profit from scarcity, driving people to the margins. This was evident during Ireland’s Great Hunger (1845-1852), not a famine of the earth but of distribution. Potatoes were the staple of the poor, and when blight struck, their Protestant landlords and the British government allowed them to starve while exporting other food to England. Cecil Woodham-Smith wrote that “huge quantities of food were exported from Ireland to England throughout the period when the people of Ireland were dying of starvation.” This is an ancient trick, from Enclosure*** to the present war on farmers—a calculated starvation of the many for the benefit of the few.

In the tales of St. Brigid, one of Ireland’s most well-known saints, superabundance is a recurring theme. Her stories are filled with miracles of fertility and plenty, from serving as midwife at Christ’s birth to proving her virginity by causing a wooden altar to turn green. Seán Ó Duinn, OSB, in The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint, writes of her role in a world alive with agriculture, religion, and community. Brigid sought to unify these elements under the spirit of Christianity, a spirit sorely missed today.

A poem attributed to Brigid captures this spirit of abundance:
I should like a great lake of ale For the King of Kings;
I should like the family of heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like cheerfulness to be in their drinking;
I should like Jesus too, to be there (among them).
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown;
I should like the people of heaven there from all parts.
And so should I.

Fertility is not merely a biological phenomenon, it’s a heavenly gifting, heaven and earth in union, embodying realty.

In a world increasingly defined by dogmatic materialists and transient, often degenerative, ideologies of environmental stewardship, the destruction of the faerie tree serves as a stark reminder of what we lose when we disregard the sacred. It is a dire warning that we ought to remember the stories and wisdom of our ancestors, to honor the Creator of the land, and to resist the forces stripping the world of its mystery and abundance. In these dark times, it is my prayer and hope that we are blessed by God with the Spirit of Brigid, unifying His people and nurturing His earth, to restore balance and celebrate the fertility of all things, from the birth of the Christ-Child to the budding of the tiniest wild flower.

*** Enclosure was then term used to explain the division or consolidation of communal fields, meadows, pastures, and other arable lands in western Europe into the carefully delineated and individually owned and managed farm plots of modern times. Before enclosure, much farmland existed in the form of numerous, dispersed strips under the control of individual cultivators only during the growing season and until harvesting was completed for a given year. Thereafter, and until the next growing season, the land was at the disposal of the community for grazing by the village livestock and for other purposes. To enclose land was to put a hedge or fence around a portion of this open land and thus prevent the exercise of common grazing and other rights over it.

adapted from The Wealth of Land: An Essay on Abundance, author unknown.

By Donovan Riley

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, and contributing writer for 1517. He is also a co-host of Banned Books and Warrior Priest podcasts. He is the author of the book, "Crucifying Religion” and “The Withertongue Emails.” He is also a contributing author to "The Sinner/Saint Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms" and "Theology of the Cross".

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