“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring…””
—  Henri Frederic Amiel

Every now and then I run across a word whose sound carries more for me than a finite meaning.  One of those words is “fallow.”  It is often used in explanations of crop rotation to describe a plot of land that is plowed but not planted and then allowed to rest for a time in order for its fertility to increase or return.  It rests so that its potential to nurture and grow and create will expand.  When applied to agricultural science, the meaning is very specific.  When the melodious sound of “fallow” touches my ear, its meaning expands.

I see my mind as a field.  It has been plowed and is ready for planting.  I have chosen carefully from my past experiences and decided which seeds to sow in orderly rows.  They will produce the crops that interest me — ideas and stories and songs and poems.  The soil is rich and filled with all the good nutrients needed for these plants to grow and flourish.  It requires a bit of self-discipline, but I stop planting before the whole field is filled.  I leave a part of the soil to wait and to rebuild and to grow future crops, the ones I have not yet chosen.  It lies fallow.  Fallow means empty of crops.  Fallow means full of potential.  The fallow mind is the place where nothing is known and anything is possible.

We must keep a part of us fallow so that when the winds of mystery blow they might carry an unknown seed to the waiting soil.  If it is rested and restored and fertile, there is no telling what might grow there.  We have no need to plant in the fallow field.  It is a quiet place that rests instead of working, that listens instead of speaking, that opens itself to more than the plans we make and the ideas that already have taken root in our lives.  Walk softly today to your fallow field.  Feel the breeze that blows mystery all around; and if you are lucky enough to discover something beautiful growing there, pay attention.  Water it, nurture it, and see what wonder can enter your life if only you remember to leave the space for something unknown.