Sunday, October 9, 2011

For the Fruits of This Creation

For the fruits of this creation, thanks be to God;
For the gifts of every nation, thanks be to God;
For the plowing, sowing, reaping,
Silent growth while we are sleeping,
Future needs in earth's safe keeping, thanks be to God!

In the just reward of labor, God's will be done;
In the help we give our neighbor, God's will be done;
In the worldwide task of caring
For the hungry and despairing,
In the harvests we are sharing, God's will be done.

For the harvests of the Spirit, thanks be to God;
In the good we all inherit, thanks be to God;
For the wonders that astound us,
For the truths that will confound us,
Most of all, that love has found us, thanks be to God!

* Words: Fred Pratt Green © 1970, Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

This is one of my favorite harvest hymns. I have always loved it.  I anticipate singing it in church all year long.  For me, it is much more than just a seasonal hymn.  It took on a special meaning when we started working on Bill and Dorothy's farm.  
The rhythm of the farm and the labor invested in a harvest now mean something to me. 

I now understand the joy of plowing, sowing, and reaping.  

The silent growth while we are sleeping. 

Working to the point of exhaustion and then helping a neighbor do the same.

I acutely understood despair one season when a hard freeze was predicted and we hadn't finished harvesting our sweet potato crop.  The only ones not at work or school, Bill and I met out at the farm.  He drove the tractor to turn the earth for a faster harvest and I followed behind to gather it in. It was overcast, threatening to snow.  He drove down the first row, turning the dirt and there was nothing.  He asked if I thought he missed it...I said,  "Yes, maybe just a little to the left."  He drove up and down the rows throughout the whole field.  Eventually he had turned every bit of dirt in the field.
After searching with shovels, we gave up.

The realization was hard.  There was nothing there.  No sweet potatoes that year.

The plants had been beautiful, but there were no roots to harvest.    We talked as we walked away from the field about what a disappointment that was for us.  But that was all it was, just a disappointment.   It did not mean starvation for us as it would have for those dependent on the garden for livelihood.
His neighbor Molly had a great harvest and would be happy to share.
I was ever so thankful knowing it would not mean hunger for us, but I had a new understanding for crop failure and its ramifications.

And so we turn to the final verse...the harvest of the spirit. 

We plow to turn the dirt of our soul. 
When we face difficulties and challenges, we prepare for the seed of the Word.  
Stirred is ready for sowing.

We sow seeds of  promise from the Lord. 
We reach for his warmth as the plant reaches for the sun. 
We are soaked in his love as the plants soak the rains through the summer. 

And silently....we grow.

The harvest is ready....sometimes the harvest is great and we can nourish and share with others. 
Other times...we may just have beautiful foliage and have to work harder to build stronger roots.
We have to return to the earth and start again....plowing and sowing over and over until the harvest is ready for reaping.

And so, wonders of the world astound us, truths confound us, and for the harvests of the Spirit, Thanks Be To God.

I hope you enjoy this season of harvest.

1 comment:

  1. My mom shared this with me yesterday, and I was reminded of you making me lunch this summer and giving me your backyard tour-clothes line and all! Thanks for your hospitality, by the way!

    A clothesline was a news forecast
    To neighbors passing by.
    There were no secrets you could keep
    When clothes were hung to dry.

    It also was a friendly link
    For neighbors always knew
    If company had stopped on by
    To spend a night or two.
    For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
    And towels upon the line;

    You'd see the "company table cloths"
    With intricate designs.

    The line announced a baby's birth
    From folks who lived inside -
    As brand new infant clothes were hung,
    So carefully with pride!

    The ages of the children could
    So readily be known
    By watching how the sizes changed,
    You'd know how much they'd grown!

    It also told when illness struck,
    As extra sheets were hung;
    Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
    Haphazardly were strung.

    It also said, "Gone on vacation now"
    When lines hung limp and bare.
    It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
    With not an inch to spare!

    New folks in town were scorned upon
    If wash was dingy and gray,
    As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
    And looked the other way . . ..

    But clotheslines now are of the past,
    For dryers make work much less.
    Now what goes on inside a home
    Is any body's guess!

    I really miss that way of life.
    It was a friendly sign
    When neighbors knew each other best
    By what hung on the line!