Article written for October parish magazine
I write this on a very warm day. It’s warm enough to be summer really but despite that it still feels like autumn. Berries are ripening, apple trees are loaded down with fruit, leaves are turning gold and yellow, and the house martins that nest above my bedroom window have left for Africa. It’s lovely to live in a place where we can see the seasons change and notice the rhythms of the natural world.
One important part of the natural world’s rhythm at this time of year is of course gathering in the harvest. Living in this part of the world and driving around the countryside seeing the fields with machines going up and down, spraying, fertilising, ploughing, sowing and harvesting, really shows how much work goes in to producing our food. And farmers have had a difficult time of it this year, with the hot summer and lack of rain. Animals have had to be fed on food meant for the winter and there’s been extra work involved in keeping crops watered and healthy.
Yet, despite all the difficulties that our British climate can throw at us, we can and do have a harvest we can rely on, year after year. We can still be sure that our shops will be full of food even with difficult weather conditions, and we know that when we turn a tap there’ll be water for us to drink. Not everyone around the world can say the same – there are many countries where a poor harvest means starvation and where the nearest water is miles away.
This means that it’s important for us to be thankful for what we have. It’s an amazing privilege really to be able to go to a supermarket and choose from shelves piled high with food. It’s easy to forget all the work that goes in to growing, packaging and transporting our food to us. We can all take it for granted that we can choose to eat food from many different parts of the world. But we live in a world where we depend on other people for the things we eat and drink, and it’s good to remember and celebrate them.
It’s also good to remember and celebrate the God who makes all of this possible. The world was created good and fruitful, full of things for us to eat, enjoy and discover. And it’s still a place full of beauty and abundance. Each season of the year plays its role in giving us good things. The winter, although it seems a dead time, is a chance for the earth to rest and prepare for the spring, which gives us joy and hope with new life springing up everywhere. The summer brings longer, lazier days with insects, animals and flowers all around us. Then the autumn gives us fruits, vegetables, wheat and many other good things to eat.
There are good gifts for all – if we remember to share and be generous towards people who have less than us. These are not only in faraway countries but also here in our country, where many people depend on food banks to feed themselves and their families. God is generous to us and the Bible tells us that we’re meant to care for the earth and share his generosity with others.
So, as we give thanks for the harvest perhaps there are also ways in which we might be able to share our good gifts with someone else who has less than us?
And may God bless us all with gladness and generosity.