There is something about harvest time in Indiana that makes me feel that I should finish something. Perhaps it is the threshing machines cleaning up the rows of wheat and spitting the swollen ripe kernels of grain into the waiting grain trucks to be taken off to storage bins in preparation for winter. Maybe it is the wide plows that turn the traces of corn stalks and dry soybean plants under, leaving the fresh, black earth like a velvet carpet laid in neat squares against the kelly green sections of newly sprouted fields of winter wheat. Or could it be the squirrels skittering around the yard stuffing acorns and walnuts into their cheeks, then racing off to bury their treasure before the snow falls. Or maybe it’s the last of the apple crop being pressed into fragrant cider or baked with cinnamon and brown sugar before the frost comes.
Whatever the reason, this is the season to finish things, to tie up loose ends, to save and store, to harvest and be sure there is enough of everything that matters to last us through the hard times.
And how does one finish a season of the heart? How may we harvest and store the bounty of the spirit and save against the elements of fruits we cannot see?
The Pilgrims knew the answer. They said “Thanks.”. They knew there must be a taking of account, a time to stop and be aware of the beauty that fills our lives—a time to realize and verbalize and celebrate the things that have been growing all along. Yes, gratitude is the instrument of harvest. It ties the golden sheaves in bundles. It plucks the swollen kernels from the chaff and cuts the fragrant grasses to be bound in great round bales. It picks the crimson fruit and digs the rounded roots that sometimes have made the difference between life and death.
And I am thankful! Thankful for plenty—plenty and more—of things to eat and wear, of beauty like art and colors and textures, of means of transportation like cars, bikes, vans, busses, planes…and feet. I am thankful for things we cannot buy like tenderness and inspiration and revelation and insight; I am thankful for ideas, words, songs, discussions, and silent messages of the heart.
I am thankful for health, health that we take so for granted that we schedule our lives, assuming that things will be normal, that legs will walk. That eyes will see—to read, to experience, to learn. That ears will hear-- the music, the instruments, the warnings the blessings, the sounds of nature. That bodies will function—that food will digest, energy will be generated to perform daily tasks. That minds will comprehend—the beauty, the concepts and ideas, the dangers, the failures. That hands will work—to reach, to hug, to write, to drive, to rake leaves, to sweep floors, to fold clothes, to play instruments like pianos, flutes, violins, drums and oboes.
I am thankful for family, family with individual personalities, gifts, needs, and dreams—for family immediate and family extended, all feeding into what I am and what I will become, even family departed who have lived out their part and left their heritage of hard work, integrity, grit, love, tenderness, faith, and humor.
I am thankful for friends, for stimulating, vivacious, provoking, disturbing, encouraging, agitating, blessing, loving, forgiving friends.
I am thankful for hope and love and a deep assurance that God is in control of our lives, an assurance that is not threatened by fear of nuclear annihilation or national economic failure.
I am thankful for children who give us new eyes to see, new ears to hear, new hands to touch new minds to understand all the old things.
I am thankful for courage to go on trusting people, risking love, daring to believe in what could be, all because of the confirming experience of daily trusting God and finding Him utterly trustworthy.
And because the seasons are built into the very fiber of our being, I am thankful for harvest time, a time for finishing what’s been started, a time to be aware, to pay attention, and to realize the life we’ve been given. Because I know that if we harvest well, there will be seeds for planting in the spring.