I stand looking out of the picture windows in our living room this morning after the fourth of July, looking at our farmer’s field.  

Why is he our farmer?  Because although we own the land, he does the work.  Every year he decides what will be planted in the roughly eight acres that stretch below me and merge into the dozens of others, creating the near view.  Will it be rye?  Will it be oats? Or fescue?  This year it is wheat and by July 4th the wheat has headed up and begun to form those golden hues, those amber waves of grain.  The wind is from the west and blows the sea of wheatheads in gentle undulations that seem to lap at the feet of the dark line of fir along the field’s edge.

The land slopes away steeply and as I stand here with my steaming cup of coffee in my hand, I can see all five Cascade volcanoes in the far view, silhouetted sharply against the sky, all clear angles and snowy sides, except for Mount St Helens whose shoulders are slumped and who holds a crown of clouds above her head forebodingly.  As has been said before today, the mountains are purple and they are majestic: that purple mountain majesty, above the fruited plain.  

And the plain beneath us in the middle view is indeed fruited: orchards of apple, cherry, hazelnut and walnut stretch away to the left, the walnut trees both larger and darker than the more delicate hazels.  For the work of the farmer and orchardist I am grateful this morning.  

America, America, God shed his grace on thee. I think we cannot ignore that this has been done, that our people are historically blessed and fortunate.  And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.  I think about those words and what they might mean for all of us.  At 1600 feet and perched above the Willamette valley, my back to the ocean, a mere foothills’ breadth away, I look to the east and were I able to see far enough I could see that other shining sea.  

But brotherhood, what does that mean for us?  From my narrow point of view it occurs to me to hope that, whoever is president soon and whatever our politics, we can remember  each other and remind ourselves that until all of our families and all of our children are cared for in sickness and in health, none of us can be at peace.  Even in gratitude we have to strive for better.