Original post from November 2015
Growing up in New York State, within a stones throw of New Jersey, I should have pondered harvest as in the actual planting and process. Instead, I pictured pilgrims, long plank tables, cornucopias dripping ripe fruit, children dressed as mini pilgrims... Thanksgiving. Right out of a 5th? grade history book. I lived so close to the soil these English settlers walked, regardless of truth or fiction I was taught... I still missed it.
These two beautiful states rank in the top six in the country for corn, dairy, and tomato production. They celebrate harvest.
Nothing compares to an ear of buttery Jersey corn, or a slice of sweet, ripe tomato from same soil.
People unfamiliar with New Jersey think of Housewives and those shore people. They are real... for sure, but it's also called the Garden State for a reason. Good dirt, plentiful sunshine, perfect temperatures and humidity.
When we moved our young family to Champaign, Illinois I thought we hit the motherlode of corn. We did in many ways... corn not being one of them.
Illinois corn is mainly feed corn. It grows tall and wide, but a disappointment when you bite into it. That fact ended summers filled with corn on the cob, sweet Jersey tomatoes and New York pizza, but that is another story.
We managed to grow tomatoes, but they were never quite as sweet as back east.
Maybe it was the memories of my grandparents garden or my husband planting sixty tomato plants, from seeds he brought back from Italy the year we married... and my grandmother walking the rows, shaking her head.
The harvest would not be good without the thinning of the sprouting fruit..
It was a bumper crop (farmer talk) that year and I asked that same sweet grandmother to teach me to can. My gram was a farm girl and quickly realized the good Doctor had over planted and we had better buy some canning jars. I remember it like yesterday.
Sixty quarts of tomatoes were "put up" (canned) that fall.
I learned what Harvest felt like when I got my hands dirty in the soil, warmed from the prepared canning jars, my face often times splattered with bubbling tomatoes.
Living in the fertile midwest, I learned to appreciate the harvest in a literal way, often reminded of the fragility of our foods dependence on weather.
I've watched Harvest many times since then, the corn growing on the outskirts of my community, some I could see from my back yard. It would feed thousands of cattle on the plains. Knee high by the Fourth of July was the saying...
I saw harvest in the plants we would choose each spring, feeding, watering and then waiting. In friendships, neighborhoods, churches. In my children growing from babes, whom I read Sam I Am, and Little House, Big Woods, to adults who create and accomplish beautiful things... a rich harvest.
I missed moments of harvest, too busy to see.
Sometimes my harvest was rich, other times I watched it wither on the vine, unable to feed or water it enough to sustain life. Winter would arrive, a time of rest. Thankfully spring always returned with new opportunities to begin again. The seasons are a great reminder for our souls.
Last week I was invited to Creative Lectio. Nita Andrews is the beautiful woman who created this space. She opened by sharing her words of the The Harvest.
If these words were all I heard Friday morning, it would have been enough.
My heart was calmed, my soul rested in that time. It had been a hard week. When we take the time to be still... lean in and listen, beautiful things grow inside our souls.
"A day’s harvest
A season’s harvest
The harvest of your life
Harvest is a state of mind as much as it is a literal field that you planted two seasons prior and must gather in.
Harvest is being conscious of where you are making purchase. Purchase of seeds, purchase of resources like sun, nutrients, and then collecting water. Harvest is making purchase of a field one yard at a time. Slowly and deliberately.
Harvest is stopping in the whirlwind of growth and asking:
Is this the crop I intended?
Is this the yield I expected?
Is this bringing the joy of hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
Harvest is taking stock of the larder for the winter.
Harvest is naming your surplus and sharing it with the needy.
Harvest is leaving the corners of your acre untouched so the needy can nobly and anonymously be fed.
Harvest is a mindset.
Therefore, Harvest can happen at 10 pm for ten minutes (the conscious examen of your day)
on Sunday during the Prayers of the People
at midnight on New Year’s Eve
on April 15th as you hit send on your tax return.
Harvest is every graduation.
Harvest is every new birth and baby shower.
Harvest is a first cousin to regret and gritty trust. Harvest is being out of control regarding weathers.
Harvest is rejoicing and bringing in the sheaves.
Harvest is Jesus weeping over Jerusalem as he stood on the Mt. of Olives— because the harvest was in ruins.
Harvest is Jesus saying, “Today you will be with me in paradise” to a thief.
Harvest is John being commissioned to care for Mary at the foot of the cross.
Harvest is the big catch of fish after zero on your own.
Harvest is your tears kept in a bottle and your songs being recorded.
Harvest is standing in a field of stunted and dried out corn stalks as far as the eye can see.
Harvest is stopping with a plan to see the field. To see what's there.
Harvest is seeing pew after pew full of worshipping families.
Harvest is seeing pew after pew of empty seats. Harvest is stopping with a plan to see the pews. To see what's there.
Harvest is the day the papers are served.
Harvest is the day you celebrate the 40 years of being married.
A harvester is not made by John Deere, It is a man or woman made in God’s image that is willing to ask a question.
A question that requires courage.
What am I making with the raw materials I have been given?
Harvest is about something much bigger than numbers.
It is stories told around campfires of what life became because you were here and naming the ways life would have
been impoverished if you hadn’t been here.
Harvest is giving alms in secret and knowing a private harvest of hope that erupted from your heart.
Harvest is an exhausted parent reading to a child at nine o'clock at night.
Harvest is writing till your vision blurs--Planting and plucking words until the lines sing
with the beauty of language.
Harvest is putting your thoughts in an envelope with a stamp to say you remember gifts given.
Harvest is having an abundance for October and canning a portion of it for February.
Harvest is when you pop the waxed seal open in February and say “thank you”
Harvest is building relational capital and keeping it secure before you leave your day job.
Harvest is bringing all of your friends up on stage with you.
Harvest is weeping over the fullness of ice wine.
Harvest is saying, “next year” when the birds ate every grape in your vineyard.
Harvest is saying. We will rebuild." after a flood
Harvest is a photo album of 12 years of school pictures.
Harvest is complex management of faith, fear, risk and generosity.
Wealth management can be harvest —but most of the time, it is a fear-based clutching of bottom line number
socked away and out of sight for a rainy day.
Harvest stands in the rain and laughs."
Nita's words hit me deep.
Friday got harder and darker as the day went on. Tragedy struck our world again. Truth is, tragedy strikes daily in our world, but this happened in a country we were willing to pay attention to. One that mattered.
The opportunities for harvest are all around us...
I have a choice as to who my harvest will embrace. So do you. So does the world. What will we sow? What will we harvest? Who will we embrace and who will we say no to?
I want to stand in the rain and laugh, fearless because I know Who holds me and calls me by name. My desire is for a rich Harvest, bountiful, overflowing with goodness and mercy.