Thursday, 30 November 2006

October 2006 - Harvest of Souls

The Harvest Festivals have come and gone, and we have given thanks to God for the plenty he has given us.

As I dig the last row of potatoes, I reflect on my own harvest, and start to plan for next year. The story is mixed. These knobbly tubers are the old late potato variety pink fir apple – difficult to peel, but to my taste unrivalled for flavour. The crop is good, though small due to the dry summer. It will feed us for a few months yet. The beans were another matter. The broad beans grew well, and produced hosts of flowers, but almost no pods formed. I suspect poor pollination. Bees were scarce: perhaps local swarms have been killed by the varoa mite, which is making life so difficult for beekeepers. Just three climbing French beans came up from a long row, but they and a late sowing of dwarf beans have fed us well for weeks. Last year’s seed, I tell myself: I must throw out the old and buy fresh next year. The plums were very good, the apples too. With great joy I watched the first pears form on the young espalier trees. And Susanna’s new labyrinth garden has produced a rich harvest of flowers to delight our spirits and passers-by.

In the summer arable farmers were worried by the drought, and I heard of first-cut silage being fed to beasts in July. But the Irish Farmers Journal now forecasts a 2 million tonne grain harvest, 6.8% above 2005, and after-grass is good I hear. Altogether, we all had a very great deal to give thanks for!

All Souls tide looms in the church calendar. I lean back on my fork and I wonder: What will Jesus make of his harvest, the harvest of souls? I am a sinner, and so are you, we all know that - though some of us are more miserable than others! Surely Jesus too will find the harvest mixed: among disappointments, I pray he may find some encouragement. He loves every soul, however knobbly, however poor the yield, we are assured. Jesus taught us to pray to our Father in heaven, and I take comfort that our loving-father God continues to show his love by giving us each day our daily bread. Without his grace we would have no harvest, though we do not deserve it.

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