“Canning, freezing or just eating ‘em fresh out of the garden?” An uncle had stopped by and was looking at our arbor of moonflowers. The sun had already set and the majority of what would be a total of twenty-seven blossoms measuring at least a half-foot across were clearly visible. They shone white in the twilight.
I explained, as I had with the patches of zinnia earlier, and the iris and daffodil before that, that this was not a harvest for the stomach, but for the eyes. True, we had eaten squash blossoms in the past, and frequently gathered the “blo” of elderberries to mix in pancake batters. But I admitted; these magnificent florae were “simply decoration.”
“What kind of harvest is that?” This uncle was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Even icing on a cake was only valued for its sugary taste. His words did set me to thinking; not a wasted past-time. Made me wonder about harvests in general. Made me wonder about my harvest.
Henry David Thoreau believed the “true harvest of (his) life intangible—a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow…..clutched.” Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman statesman and philosopher, held “The harvest of old age….the recollection and abundance of blessings previously sowed.” We all have some idea of a harvest; many differ.
Author Robert Louis Stevenson recognized “Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.” Fellow writer William Blake thought “The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” Ken Follet that one “…should first follow the plow if you want to dance the harvest jig.” Roman philosopher Seneca knew “Even a bad harvest; there must be sowing.”
Anyone growing up on a farm or even gardening recognizes the truth there, and in Follet. Our scripture reminds us “….he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully.” I wish more of us farmed, or at least gardened. Maybe the repercussions of our actions would seem more obvious.
I see parents bewildered by the lack of ambition in children who never had chores; puzzled by the misbehavior of those that grew up with little punishment. Amazed by the lack of awareness by those raised with their attention focused on a screen in their hand rather than on the world around them.
We have social and governmental structures now advocating a system of equity that is based on equal harvests despite unequal effort or “sowing.” How can any sane person not see the problem with that? Again, we need more gardeners! Reminders of “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Maybe even a bit of “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
Then there’s the question raised by my uncle. If the harvest cannot be eaten? If it has no material worth? Puts no “coin in the bank” or “larder in the cupboard?” That very question has been behind funding levels for the National Endowment of Arts as well as the challenges faced by local museums and community centers.
It is fundamental to our own budgeting of resources—time as well as money. Even to what we sow.
In Matthew, we are reminded “Man shall not live by bread alone…..” I know the complete reference is to the word of God. As Blake saw “..a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wildflower”; I see the Word of God in His Creation. Even in a moonflower. Or a zinnia. Even if we can’t eat them! Thanks for joining us!