Trust God and do good,
then you shall dwell in the land
and be secure.
(Psalm 37:3)

I live in a remote area of West Texas. The population density of my county is 1.7 people per square mile. The closest barber is an hour away.

The region is a good fit for me. The open plains help me feel “grounded”—excuse the pun. The vast horizon shines with luster; the hard-scrabble towns call me to greater sacrifice; the evening solitude draws my thoughts, my emotions, my very soul to God.

The setting plays a major influence in the mindset of the local population. When drought browns all grass in sight, and irrigation wells suck sand instead of water, conversations at the feed store and post office are anything but dismal. They actually acquire a boastful tone. The folks in this country are resilient and proud of it! I’m honored to live among them.

Sadly, the cultural view of “fly-over” country harbors disdain. How I wish my fellow citizens would give due honor to those who grow their food. According to the latest US census, five times as many rural people die working in the field of agriculture as fire fighters die rescuing lives.

When was last time you heard someone call a farm hand a hero?

The Catholic thinker from England, G.K. Chesterton, once wrote that America’s rural communities were our nation’s only hope for maintaining a functioning democracy. In his off-handed way, he suggested that his own country should import a Nebraska farmer and set his operation down in the middle of London for observation. In his view, a productive life lived on actual soil would save civilization from “the calamites of wealth and science.

I am driving home from offering Mass in Bovina, a town whose very name refers to bovines. I pass a sign on the side of a feedlot barn that reads: “Farmers Feed the World.”


The message echoes the pride of old codgers gathered around coffee at the back of the farmers’ co-op. I smile as I recall that a nearby town, Farwell, touts “The Steers” as their high school mascot (I’m not making this up!).

Further north, a community college team is known as “The Plainsmen.” In Pampa, a neighboring town, “The Harvesters” is painted in large gold letters on the water tower.

Two more hours on the road lie ahead of me. Off to the left, sunlight glistens on the coats of grazing cattle. I imagine the sound of a breeze whistling through gaps in a rusted windbreak. Up ahead, columns of cloud buttress the sky.

Yes, I love living here. And so would G.K. Chesterton.

08 / 07 / 2023
Back to all articles