Autumn is also a season of great activity as the year culminates in the lavish harvests and feasting that often accompanies them. We dry, can, and preserve the harvest for the days of scarcity that lie ahead. In our lives we need to recognize these seasons when our physical work gathering in the harvest of our efforts is tempered with the prayer and preparation needed to sustain us throughout the cold seasons of life that assail all of us at times.
For me, harvest time mirrors the overflowing generosity of God. When we diligently work the earth -- sow the seed in season, fertilize, water, and nurture the crop -- the harvest is often overwhelmingly abundant, so abundant that we must share our bounty with others if we want to fully utilize it.
Perhaps you don't enjoy gardening like I do, but I suggest you take time to reflect on the God revealed in creation. Pray for those who earn their living through interaction with God's earth. Farmers, forestry workers, landscape gardeners, and conservationists are a few of those who labor in God's good creation who need our prayers. We all reap the benefits of their efforts as we eat their produce, admire their landscapes, and walk amongst the parks they preserve.
If possible, work on a local farm picking apples or raspberries. Plan a harvest celebration and feast that includes the produce you pick. Make the feast totally of food that is in season. Consider sending a note of thanks to local family farmers or national park workers as a sign of appreciation for the efforts they put into preserving God's creation and in providing you with the abundance of food for your table. An even more radical possibility is to visit migrant farm workers and share your feast with them. Their backbreaking work, often for very low pay and little thanks, provides us with a rich array of inexpensive produce.
If you live in the city, make an effort to get outside into God's creation at lunch hour. Whether it is sunny or rainy, sit in a local park and reflect on God's glory shining through the plants and animals around you. Visit a local farmer's market -- there are growing numbers in most cities. Buy seasonal foods and plan a feast. Pray for farmers local and global whose livelihoods are in jeopardy because of environmental degradation or unjust trade agreements.
What takes place in my garden over the year is a constant reminder that we are co-creators with the living God. We plant the seed and water the soil but God germinates and grows the plant. Even during the dark cold days of winter God is still at work putting down roots, enriching the soil, preparing for growth. Similarly God gives life to all our efforts. We plant the seed of God's word. Sometimes we have the privilege of seeing it burst into bloom, but it is God who breathes life into our efforts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and in those around us God still grows mighty plants out of tiny mustard seeds.
Christine Sine and her husband are the founders of Mustard Seed Associates, a network of followers of Jesus that seeks to unleash the creative potential of individuals who want to put God's purposes first in their lives. Visit Christine's blog at Godspace.