This past week, I was chatting with someone about how, when I was a child, and for her, when she lived in England, there was a harvest festival, but not really an American style thanksgiving. I have been musing on why it is important to remember the harvest specifically. As I drive to beautiful downtown Fergus, I pass streams and rivulets, fields and grazing animals, farmers at work in the fields. It reminds me that I depend on the bounty of the earth for my life and I depend on the people who work on the earth for my sustenance. The animals must have pasture, the plants must be tended, the corn must be harvested. Everything is both labour intensive and also a living act of appreciation for the ground beneath our feet.
Most of us live in more urban settings now so it is a casual matter to lose our connection to the land and to the interconnectedness of all life. The eggs I eat used to be part of the body of a chicken. The meat I consume used to be a living creature like me. The grains and plants are bent to my need rather than the wisdom of their own being. We are one, and we are finally and inescapably, one organic whole.
Jesus said, “ I am the vine and your are the branches,” and it is not only a metaphor for the spiritual life, but a reality. We are part of one creation. We are creatures in an organic being called the earth. And what weaves us together in love is the Maker who holds all life, seen and unseen, historic and not yet born, in one pulsating, breathing whole. We are made from the dust of exploding stars and yet we inhabit a particular moment in time and space.
Harvest festivals remind us that we are not gods, but intertwined equally with all life on this planet. It also reminds us that we have been invited to dream beyond the limitations of our minds and bodies. In that dreaming, we may share the wisdom of the Holy One who calls us into a shared imagination, a hushed awe, and a shout of ecstasy.
Giving thanks seems almost mundane compared to this rich panorama into which we are invited. And so today, smell the flowers, the bread, the food that has been prepared. Touch each other with love and appreciation for the beauty of the Maker as it radiates through our lives. Let us sink to our knees with wonder that this life is so full. As much as we feel blessed, may we be a blessing to others. When thank you isn’t enough, let us open our hearts to the Holy One who waits within to love us and lift us up.