Sunday, 29 September 2013

So Do We Reap What We Sow?

“Harvest” is a time for reaping, but I also see it as a time for reflection; “Harvest” is a time just before Autumn sets in and all around us slows down; “Harvest is a time to gather in all that has occurred in our lives; “Harvest” is a time to feast on the good and perhaps chuck out what is of no use.

We will, before we are probably aware of it, soon enter into the winter of the year. Let us hope we have gathered enough to see us through the darkness of winter; let us hope we have planted enough, and cared for what we have planted, so that our harvest will be a fulfilling one, that it will leave us fulfilled.

So how is your harvest this year? How does your garden grow?

In Paul's letter to the Galatian’s Ch 6 v 7 you hear that well known phrase “for you reap whatever you sow”.
This roughly translates as you get whatever you give off in life; that life gives back to you in proportion to what you give to it.

These words bring to my mind the story of “Echo”...

A man and his son were walking in the forest.

Suddenly the boy trips and feeling a sharp pain he screams, "Ahhhhh."

Surprised, he hears a voice coming from the mountain, "Ahhhhh"

Filled with curiosity, he screams:

"Who are you?",

but the only answer he received is:

"Who are you?"

This makes him angry, so he screams:

"You are a coward!",

and the voice answers:

"you are a coward!"

He looks at his father, asking,

"Dad, what is going on?"

"son," the man replies, "pay attention!"

Then he screams, "I admire you!"

The voice answers: "I admire you!"

The father shouts, "You are wonderful!",

and the voice answers:

"You are wonderful!"

The boy is surprised, but still can't understand what is going on.

Then the father explains,

"People call this 'ECHO',

but truly it is 'LIFE!' Life always gives you back what you give out!

Life is a mirror of your actions.

If you want more love, give more love!

If you want more kindness, give more kindness!

If you want more understanding and respect, give more understanding and respect!

If you want people to be patient and respectful to you, give patience and respect!

This rule of nature applies to every aspect of our lives."

Life always gives you back what you give out.

your life is not a coincidence, but a mirror of your doings.

I do believe that generally speaking life is echo, what we give off we often get back, “We reap what we sow,” but that this not the full story. It is important to realise and understand that we are not the only force at work in our lives. There is injustice present, at some level, in every life and that we do not always get what we deserve. That said we are not passive, what we do and what we do not do matters. We are co-creators in the dance of life. While we are not the force, we are a part of the force and we have the force running through us.

I recently came across the following words by the 19th century Transcendentalist Henry David Thorau (1817-1862)

“On fields o’er which the reaper’s hand has pass’d

Lit by the harvest moon and autumn sun,

My thoughts like stubble floating in the wind

And of such fineness as October airs,

There after harvest could I glean my life

A richer harvest reaping without toil,

And weaving gorgeous fancies at my will

In subtler webs than finest summer haze.

It matters what we are and what we do, we are not passive in life, but then again neither are we the only force at work. That life force is within our DNA, but we are not God and neither are we the only force at work in our lives.

Every seed we plant needs external help. We can plant the seeds and we can care for the seeds, but they do not grow merely from our effort. Each seed is dependent on many things. It needs good soil to land upon, it needs water and it needs sunlight and it needs care and attention. Most of these are things that are to some extent out of our control.

There is also something unknown and mysterious in how these seeds grow. Yes I know that we can explain the mechanics, but not fully and we cannot truly answer the how and why. There is an unknown mystery in the whole process; a mystery that does not truly offer us any guarantees. We can do everything to the letter, to the book and yet our crops can still fail. This is due to forces at work, forces beyond our control. It is always worth remembering that it rains on the righteous and the un-righteous. The weather pays no attention to our plans and designs.

My auntie Catherine, her partner Robert and her son Edward grow strawberries. Each year they hope for a good crop and every summer I have heard continual tales of woe about these strawberries that never come out as they should. Each year they question whether it is worth putting all the effort in. Each year they plan various tactics to create the perfect crop for the few weeks they are in season. Each year it seems has been a bad year due to too much rain, or not enough rain, or the wrong kind of rain at the wrong time of year. The last two years I am told have been particularly unfruitful.

Well this year they prepared like they have never done before and this year was the best crop they’ve ever had. Now was it because of all the extra special drainage Rob put in or was it just that it rained at the right time and the sun shone at the right time...who knows, not I. I’m just grateful they had a good year, although I know that the fact it was such a good year was exhausting for them all. Here’s to another good harvest next year, but one that is not too exhausting.

You see whether we have a good harvest or not is not just down to us, we do not always reap exactly what we sow, there are other forces at work. We cannot control every element of life; there are powers at work other than our own. Sometimes everything can be destroyed, can be blown away by forces way beyond ourselves. This can lead us to believe that all is lost, but this not necessarily so. We can begin again at any time. Seeds can begin to grow again, even after utter devastation. This brings to mind the words “Seed” by Linda Hogan.

From“Dwellings. A Spiritual History of the Living World” by Linda Hogan,

"Seed. There are so many beginnings. In Japan, I recall, there were wildflowers that grew in the far, cool region of mountains. The bricks of Hiroshima, down below, were formed of clay from these mountains, and so the walls of houses and shops held the dormant trumpet flower seeds. But after one group of humans killed another with the explosive power of life’s smallest elements split wide apart, the mountain flowers began to grow. Out of destruction and bomb heat and the falling of walls, the seeds opened up and grew. What a horrible beauty, the world going its own way, growing without us. But perhaps this, too, speaks of survival, of hope beyond our time."

Out of the destruction of Hiroshima these new seeds grew. Out of total and utter despair new seeds of hope grew. Isn’t that life, isn’t that our lives.

Tell me about your harvest this year? Have the seeds you planted failed to grow this year? Are you left with a bad harvest? Is this because you have not nurtured and cared for your crop as you should have or is it due to forces way beyond your control? Either way do not despair, hope springs eternal, even in the Autumn and the winter. There is always time for new beginnings. Let’s gather in the harvests of our lives and lets offer thanks and praise for all that we have been given, even if it’s a hard lesson, let’s give thanks for the lesson.

Tomorrow is another day and we can begin again in love.

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