Our talented Bield gardeners, Pamela and Jillian, and volunteers Pat, Len and Alan, have been busy harvesting. Raspberries, runner beans, courgettes, potatoes, parsley, apples, pears, tomatoes and more have all been picked or dug up and delivered to the kitchen. Then, Gwen, Elena, Lorna and Ami, our wonderful housekeeping team, have transformed them into delicious meals that are both enjoyed and highly praised by our guests. We have much to give thanks for this harvest time at the Bield.
Elsewhere, farmers and those who work on the land, fishermen and women, and sea weed farmers have been busy harvesting too. We have much to give thanks for this harvest time in Scotland.
Not everyone, though, is aware of harvest time. Some who live in our inner cities may never have experienced harvest and the work that goes into producing our food. There are those who are living off food parcels, worrying about where their next meal will come from. And not everyone is able to reap a bountiful harvest. Many in our world have found their crops destroyed by too much rain or too little; and for many their food supply is desperately vulnerable. As we give thanks at the Bield and in Scotland, let us continue to pray for others and for food justice.
One autumn afternoon, after the night’s storm, the ground in a country field was littered with green shells and shiny brown conkers.
We arrived, leaving behind us the traffic and city streets; Peter, ready to hurl sticks, Gary, not quite sure if he felt sick and Glen, silent and thoughtful.
They found it hard to believe; as we moved from tree to tree, there were conkers and conkers and still more conkers; no need even to shuffle through the leaves or prise open tight shells – just reach down and gather them in.
Gary, if Jesus ever told a true parable about you, it was that of the farmer who built more and more barns; having stuffed your pockets, you proceeded to fill your socks, ‘til at last you gave in and turned to climbing trees.
Glen, not quite believing it all, asking, tentatively, if you could keep some for yourself.
Peter, helping me fill the bag, laughing and picturing Gary taking home enough conkers to fill his bedroom.
Glen, you made us all laugh when, on hearing the church bells, you asked if ice-cream vans came out this far into the country.
In the car home we talked, laughing as the wind blew papers all over the back seat: Glen describing the beautiful girl he’d marry, Gary shouting “Giddy-up” to a passing horse.
And so we arrived home; back to the maisonettes and tower blocks, having shared in the autumn harvest.
(Ruth Burgess in Acorns and Archangels © Wild Goose Publications)