Current studies on people with a so-called attention deficit are pointing away from a negative diagnosis of attention deficits to a deeper underlying reality. In our culture some of the new studies divide people into two basic groups. The Hunter and the Farmer. At the simplest level the Hunter constantly monitors the environment and is ever ready for a new chase to begin. The Farmer is not easily distracted from the immediate task at hand. The Hunter has some of gifts and weakness of the Hare, while the Farmer has some of gifts and weaknesses of the Tortoise. Most of us mix the characteristics of the Hunter and the Farmer in varying degrees. The story of the Tortoise and the Hare was incidentally written by a Farmer who had empathy with the Tortoise.
That brings us to the very first pair of brothers in the Scripture. Cain is a Farmer, slow and steady wins the race. Abel is a Nomad/ Shepherd, a Hunter who follows the flocks and constantly monitors the environment for dangers. The danger that he fails to recognize is the jealousy and resentment of his brother, Cain. These dynamics occur many times in Scripture and come to light in the followers of Jesus. Mary and Martha are a clear example. Martha has her mind fixed on the mundane task at hand and plods through her preparation as a hostess, while her Hunter-type sister has dropped the dishes and is mesmerized by Jesus and his teaching in much the same fashion as the Hunter would drop the plow and go and chase a rabbit. Both the Cain and Abel story, and the Mary and Martha story are written with an appreciation of the Hunter type and a caution given to the Farmer type. On the other hand we need to recognize that when the crisis of death of Lazarus hits the family of Mary and Martha, it is Martha who rushes to meet Jesus on the road with a clear statement of her faith. Mary is so overwhelmed by her grief that she remains in the house waiting for the call from Jesus.
A simple overview of the Apostolic band uncovers obvious Hunters like Peter, and his brother Andrew who is marked by a quieter and steadier approach to life. What binds them all together is the person of Jesus. He is the only thing that some of them have in common. Jesus himself is an interesting study. For the first thirty years of his life he lives as a farmer type methodically following the family business of carpentry. It takes much more patience to finish a piece of carpentry than most Hunters possess. On the other hand, at the age of thirty, like a true Hunter he drops everything and becomes an itinerant preacher wandering from village to village preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing the sick. Jesus combines in himself the perfect balance of Hunter and Farmer. He is the complete man who attracts them both drawing the impetuous Hunter Peter into a deeper steadiness in following him, and challenging the less adventuresome Andrew to go out and preach and perform miracles. For the love of Jesus they both rise to the challenge. For the love of Jesus those who are Hunters within the Church and those who are Farmers are called to honour and respect each other, to complement each other, and to grow in grace in his image.