Today we are discussing the final part in Scouting the Divine: Part 2. Yes, we read the parts out of order in an attempt to have the two books mildly line up.
First off, tomatoes!
When Margaret and Leif helped Joe and his mom can all of those tomatoes, I thought of all that we have learned about tomatoes in Humble Roots and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. (Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?) Also the difference between homegrown tomatoes and store bought as they relate to humility, the ways God works in us.
I smile that we, as the book club have inside short cuts like “tomatoes” or Rachel’s reference to binary thinking in the comments last week, that say so much more than the mere words.
As I review my notes for this section, what stands out is how much time and awareness is needed when it comes to farming (or growing things in our own lives) and that eventually, “fields don’t lie.”
People in this book club are spread out all over the world. So, some of you live quite removed from nature. Sure, you might have a flower market nearby and trees line your streets, but your reality is more of an urban jungle. Others of you are in small villages and your reality is more governed by natural rhythms. The rest of you live somewhere between these extremes. I would be curious to hear what your location is like, how are you aware of the changing of the seasons?
Early on in this section, Margaret slowed me down enough to reflect on all that is involved in harvesting.
A good farmer is aware of:
- the weather
- the soil
- how much an area should produce
- the quality of the seed
These lines stood out to me.
“I was taken by Joe’s observation that the sandy and rocky acres of the land were still productive on some level. All too often I look at those rugged areas of my own life and think nothing good can come from them.”
“Your fields reveal who you are as a farmer. Everyone has bad years, pests, and crazy stuff that happens, but if you watch over the long haul, year after year, then you can tell who’s a good farmer and who’s not.”
(My brother-in-law popped into my mind as an example of this. Several years ago he felt like a bad employee because he was in and out of work because his mom was not in a great place. She was in and out of psychiatric and physical hospitals. She seemed to have more doctors appointments than seemed humanly possible. Del was a good son, but maybe not the greatest worker. My sister said, “Everyone knows who you are! They know you are a good employee and this is for a season. You have showed up and faithfully worked for over twenty years, if you have a few months of not being as present, everyone will cut you some slack!” This season did end, before she died, his mom became a Christian, and Del returned to the quality employee he was and is. We all have “bad years”, but over time, our lives reveal who we are as a human.
What is mine revealing about me? my values? my relationship with my body, finances, and people?)
Margaret asked Joe and his uncle about Jesus’ stern reply in Luke when he says that no one who places his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for service in God’s kingdom. “If they’re using a plow, that means it’s planting season. If I look backward while I’m driving the plow, then I’m going to weave, which means I’ll get bends in my rows. . . . Bends in the rows lead to a lot of inefficiency. It’s not the best possible use of your limited space. The only way to fix it is to set your eyes straight ahead on a marker in the distance.”
(This makes sense! Of course I was familiar with that passage, but I had never thought why it was ‘that bad’ to look back. So much in this section had parallels to ministry life! ‘If there is a plow, it is planting season.’ You need to look forward to watch for stones and to keep your lines straight. We all have limitations within our ministries, how can we work well within them?)
“You can’t tell wheat from tares just by looking at it. You have to grab, squeeze, and crush it to find out whether it’s real or not. I think that’s true of the spiritual life. Some people can look really good on the outside—they can seem more mature or look like they really know their Bible—but when it comes to the pressures of life and getting crushed, that’s whey the fruit really shows.”
(Don’t you wish there was an easy way to tell wheat from tares?! I do! But life and ministry do not have many shortcuts, we have to ‘grab, squeeze, and crush’ to figure out what is just empty husks and what had seed.)
“Harvest does not happen apart from waiting. When I think about harvest in these terms, my own impatience becomes more apparent. I plant a seed hoping it spouts as quickly and dramatically as in the story of Jack and the beanstalk. But that isn’t realistic.”
(Maybe that needs to become our new mantra: Harvest does not happen apart from waiting.)
In reference to harvesting and the Sabbath: “When it’s harvest time, it’s hard to take a day off to rest and relax; when you see good weather, your field is ready, and everything is good to go. You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring—including frost or the first snow. That extra day of waiting could mean you lose your crops. This command echoes of trust and faith in God.”
(It does! As does the part about gleaning, but this is getting long, so I’ll end here and say, see you in the comments!)
Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:
May 8—Chapters 8 and 9 in HR
May 15—Part 2 (The Harvest) in SD
May 22—Chapters 10 and 11 in HR
May 29—We made it! Two books read in tandem we will review and have a Get to Know