It's harvest time here in New England and in many parts of the country. Because I'm neither a farmer nor a gardener, corn, squash and pumpkins are not on my mind. Rather I am thinking of another kind of harvest. What might it mean to gather in the life experiences that grow in us?
Recently I revisited a wonderful short book of poetry by Matthew Perry. The book is titled Aim Toward Love: A year of Loss, Learning and Connection. The poems are about Perry'sdivorce and the learning, pain and hope that emerge from it. In his verse, I hear him harvesting his life experiences. Just one example:
With her sitting two seats away,
perpendicular to me,
in the courthouse waiting room,
staring into the distance,
gazing past the chance for small talk,
cauterizing the recent past and the present moment,
I realized that I hadn't lost the last ten years-
I still have those and always will-
I had lost the next forty,
the rest of my life
that was supposed to go this way,
but went that,
and then I realized that I hadn't lost the time itself -
I had lost the idea,
the placidity of the daily flow
when the banks are so defined and certain,
and the ocean so far off and unknowable but welcoming -
and I had gained instead a muddy roiling flood
pushing outward past banks, not forward toward the sea,
making mud out of time and a mockery of expectations,
and then, just before they called our names,
and we left our seats to walk awkwardly
with others between us like islands, I realized that
this flood will leave the coming years
not ruined and fallow,
but rich and fertile.
Flood, by Matthew Perry
We harvest many experiences, even the painful ones. Occasionally we revisit them, not because we are masochists. We return because the soil of those experiences is rich and fertile.
Jesus told his friends to gather and remember him, re-telling the painful story of his betrayal and death. Not because he wanted us to feel sad and stuck. Rather, harvesting that experience is a reminder of resurrection, the power of Love over death. It is a lesson the land teaches us every year.
In God's Peace,