Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the parable of the harvester

The harvest she worked for was hard earned. She rose with the sun and retired with the stars. Life as a harvester was hard. Sundays were the only reprieve from hard manual labor. June brought strawberries. July brought string beans and peas. In August the corn ripened and needed to be put away. The sun greeted her unwilling eyes after cleaning strawberries till well after midnight. Yet the harvest awaited, ripening in the fields. Another day of picking till the sun went down. Another evening of cleaning and preserving the harvest, till she fell asleep in her chair.

Yet all the work turned into reward throughout the year. Every meal brought with it the taste of amazingly fresh sweet corn or green string beans, peas, carrots and strawberries. With it came the memory and appreciation of the intensive labor behind all that “home grown” represented.

Worlds collide with he who comes to offer his dimes and quarters. He who knows no toil, nor aching back. It’s free, it’s free, he cries with glee. The food is free and it’s fresh out of the field: one only pays at eh supermarket. He stuffs his obesity, delights in the taste for only a moment and discards the remains. But he is the saddest of all creatures, for he has eaten and cannot be filled. He eats and is not satisfied. He tries to buy his sustenance, gets it for free but is yet not full enough. His obesity flaunts his dilemma shamefully. He fills himself off the sweat of the poor. He is by all counts the most miserable of creatures.

But the laborer, she has her reward. The satisfaction of her labor is enough.


Anonymous said...

Upon first reading I offer a loud "Amen" (as a southerner turned Mennonite I do that sometimes) but as I sit here and contemplate that I am unable to hold a pen for more than a couple of minutes, or a hammer for one minute without numbness and loss of strength I wonder. The joints in my right arm are inflamed from spending 7 of the last nine days building fence. Now I'm glad to have the goats (for whom the fence was built) but I do wonder what would happen to my body, which I formerly thought of as young and fit, if I were to do that six days of manual labor of which you speak.

I have my doubts currently about this parable but I also know that my doubts will decrease with the healing of my joints. So perhaps a more solemn whispered "... amen ..." is appropriate

espíritu paz said...

Goats and fences--awesome! I thought of purchasing goats at one point so they could be my lawn mowers. :) and my pets. And as for the body and six days of labor--it acclimates.

I don't, like some, purport to the superiority and sanctity of manual labor. It does have its way of talking to body first and eventually to your spirit if you let it. I suppose we could talk about your situation and the difference it would make two months from now, as you look at the fence that you built as compared to some company you hired and a load of Latinos showed up to do the work. You can maybe reassure yourself about the later and say well, I paid the guy and its on his hands. But really, there's the nagging possibility of your contribution to culpability.

So in this parable, (and this commentary is for myself--cause I'm just now processing it) the farmer works for what he has, he is rewarded as he eats the fruit of his own labor and is satisfied. But the consumer throws money or credit at that which he consumes. He doesn't know where it comes from. He acts as though it's free but in reality he lives inappreciably and insatiably off the sweat and the aching joints of others. Logically and systemically he's clean but the conscience has other evidence. Evidence that leads to further dissatisfaction and need for more.

Thanks for your comments.

I think I need to read that book on my shelf entitled "Theology of Work".

peacefullady said...

I don't work this hard, but the concept of appreciating the harvest speaks to me. I haven't been able to garden very much for the past couple yrs and this yr feel a urgency and much purpose in it... more than I can explain.

"With it came the memory and appreciation of the intensive labor behind all that “home grown” represented"

I enjoyed the parable

Anonymous said...

As most of the family was sleeping this morning and rain kept me inside I opened a book of poetry by James Fenton, procured for a quarter or two at the local library. I found a piece of verse that seems to resonate with this parable and your earlier response; especially the final stanza.
What you need for poetry is a body and a voice. It doesn't have to be a great body or a great voice. But it ought ideally to be your body and your voice.

The parent helps the child discover what may be done with its lips and its limbs. This is the first poetry.

A sort of night then falls - a melancholy mercy - after which the initiation is mysteriously forgotten. This is the primal erasure.

The remainder of our lives is spent in recapturing that initial sense of discovery. This is the second poetry.

But the wisdom of the age has forbidden the use of our lips and our limbs. This wisdom is the enemy of poetry.