Saturday, 27 September 2014

Autumn: The Inner harvest

A friend recently sent me the following really got me thinking...

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said : ' I am blind, please help.' There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write? "

The man said, " I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way."

I wrote : ' Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.'

As the song goes “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone”

We do not always notice what we have, the blessings we have been given until we either lose them or truly notice that others do not have them. So much of life is given unbidden, is a real grace a free gift. So much so that we do not appreciate the fruits we are surrounded but.

We need to learn to offer thanks and praise for what we have been given and to use these gifts in creative and positive ways for the good of all.

A good and useful life is one in which we count our blessings, one in which we enjoy our days with a heart of gratitude.

A friend said to me the other day that there had been quite a lot of death this year. I agreed I have certainly found myself being with friends and family as they have come to the end of their lives.

I spent quite some time over the summer months with a friend as his life came to an end. It was an awry experience. Yes it was painful at times, but it was also beautifully moving and definitely awe inspiring. My friend had over the last twenty years lost his sight and had also had to face many other physical difficulties. Finally he slowly succumbed to cancer. What moved me greatly about him was how he accepted whatever happened with Grace. It did not waste his life wishfully thinking that he could have back what he had lost. Don’t get me wrong of course he grieved his losses, particularly his sight, but he adjusted and he accepted. I remember several years ago marvelling at his ability to memories passages from books he had read. His memory was a real marvel as he developed a new gift that he would never have known but for the loss of his sight.

The greatest gift he gave to me as I sat with him over the last few weeks of his life, was listening to his stories. He shared a rich harvest with me. It was both a blessing and a joy to sit and listen to him. He did all the talking. In fact the last thing he said to me, just two days before he died was “The next time you come Danny, I’ll let you do some of the talking”, sadly there was not a next time.

My friend lived a full life. Like any full life there were many things that he got wrong. There was some regret, but not too much. Those last few weeks he passed on much of his knowledge to me. It was a fruitful time as I harvested so much from his life. I hope that I too will be able to pass on what I have gained from his life. That I will be able to nurture these seedlings and bring something to fruit from them.

Yes in some ways this year has been one of personal loss, but I do see seedlings and shoots of hope that can be passed on from those that have been lost. Much of who they were/are lives on.

There is a beautiful chapter in John O'Donohue's book "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom" "Aging: The Beauty of the Inner Harvest". Below is an extract from it...

"There are four seasons of the heart. Several seasons can be present simultaneously in the heart, though usually, at any one time, one season is dominant in your life. It is customary to understand autumn as synchronous with old age. In the autumn time of your life, your experience is harvested. This is a lovely backdrop against which we can understand aging. Aging is not merely about the body losing its poise, strength, and self-trust. Aging also invites you to become aware of the sacred circle that shelters your life. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost memories and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one. In actual fact, if you can come to see aging not as a demise of your body but as the harvest of your soul, you will learn that aging can be a time of strength, poise, and confidence. To understand the harvest of your soul against the background of seasonal rhythm should give you a sense of quiet delight at the arrival of this time in your life. It should give you strength and a sense of how the deeper belonging of your soul-world will be revealed to you.”

O’Donohue suggests that “the autumn of our lives.” can be a time of rich harvest, where we can dig deep into our souls and uncover the lessons that are their to be learnt. it is a time to gather in all the moments of our lives, even the ones that have been seemingly lost or even discarded as unpleasant and bringing them in and “holding them as one.” It is a time when we can gather in our inner harvest and thus develop new strength, poise and confidence and therefore enter a "quiet delight" as we harvest our own lives.

I witnessed this with my friend in the last weeks of his life as his spirituality deepened, as his soul bore his fruits and he passed this on to others. We did not do the reaping, we just feasted on the crop that he produced. I hope I can pass on what was so freely given to me. All I gave was my time.

I offer thanks and praise for the life that my friend lived and the harvest that I have shared in. I offer thanks and praise for all the lives I have known and all that they have given to me and countless others, the wisdom that they shared. I offer thanks and praise for all that has been so freely given and I hope I can make the most of it and pass it on to those who follow.

Harvest is a time to offer thanks for all that has been given us. To do so we need to see what has been given to us. It is so easy to see what we do not have and therefore fail to see the gifts that we are surrounded by, gifts that are there for all of us to share in, gifts that are so freely given.

Let us be thankful for what we have and what we have to share and see the gifts we have to give to others. For one day those very gifts may well be gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment