Reaping What It Sown
Spring is coming. Hard to believe it if you live in the eastern United States where winter has been throwing slam dunks and burying cities in six feet of snow but spring really is coming. Tonight as many go to bed, they will, in the USA turn their clocks ahead one hour for the start of Daylight Savings Time. I personally never “Spring ahead” my clock without thinking about October when we get to “Fall back” and regain that extra hour of sleep. I also never think of spring and the start of planting season without thinking about reaping the benefits of my garden. While some vegetable plants have pleasing blooms, let’s face it. We plant gardens because we like to eat the harvest.
Spirituality and religions also have a harvest. Harvest festivals abound all over the world. In his book “The Hamlet”, William Faulkner alludes to the fact that the bountiful harvest comes amid the dying of summer. We reap the benefits of our work amid the ending of the season commonly thought of as the fun time. Perhaps, though, it is not in the “dying of summer” as Faulkner described it that we find the harvest but in the transition and passage of time. Summer never really dies; summer just becomes something else, something to celebrate.
One of the more well-known harvest festivals is Thanksgiving, a national holiday in the United States of America. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the holiday commemorates the harvest festival of the American Indians which they shared with the new settlers to the land, the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were not equipped to handle the weather and harsh environs of the new territory and would have died if not for the American Indians who shared not only their meal but also their knowledge. In a coming together of different cultures and beliefs, they harvested peace as well as the fruits of the land.
Harvest festivals do not always occur at the end of the growing season, though. In Greece, on Epiphany, there is a blessing of the sea to celebrate and give hope to a bountiful fishing season. The final Sunday in February sees the people of Mendoza, Argentina celebrating the first new grapes of the season. A bishop blesses the coming vintage and all give thanks to their Creator for the blessings of the future harvest. The Madeira Flower Festival in Portugal marks the start of the flower season, the blooming beauties adding joy to the living. From the Rice Festival in Bali to the Fruit Fair in Thailand which features gemstones in the shapes of mandalas, from Sukkot in Israel to Incwala in Swaziland, Olivagando in Italy to the Lammas Festival in the United Kingdom, mankind celebrates and gathers what the year has yielded.
What about the life we are busy living and planting? All too often we encounter roadblocks and sometimes it seems that no one cares. Yvonne Pierce, in her book “The Day My Soul Cried: A Memoir”, advises: “Don’t be discouraged if people don’t see your vision, your harvest. All they see from their perspective is that you’re watering a whole lot of dirt. They don’t SEE what seeds you’ve been planting with blood, sweat, tears and lack of sleep. Make sure you don’t abandon or neglect it because “they” don’t see it. You have to KNOW and believe for yourself. They don’t see the roots and what’s budding under the dirt. But it’s okay, because it’s NOT meant for them to see it. While you wait, MASTER it. You continue to do YOUR work and have unwavering faith! Remember why you started planting in the first place. Your harvest WILL come!”
A farmer’s work is not easy. What we fail to realize is that we all farm this thing called life. Lincoln Patz discusses the difficulties of our living and why we should not be surprised that growing such a life can be difficult. “Before the fruits of prosperity can come, the storms of life need to first bring the required rains of testing, which mixes with the seeds of wisdom to produce a mature harvest.”
We never really fully harvest life. I think we are called to continue the living until we can do so no more. What happens after that is for another time to ponder. The task at hand is the living, the planting of a good life. The sacred thing about life is that we have the opportunity to reap the harvest of each minute. Every action plants a seed and how we nurture our living determines our harvest.