Sowing and reaping in the ebb and flow

| Deacon Gordon Bird | April 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

It is Eastertide. Many people are experiencing a more quiet and remote liturgical season than in past spring times. Yet, social and business networking technology has helped close the gap of communications for many safe-at-home souls.

This is especially to the benefit of extroverts, who at the same time are truly learning — perhaps forced — to adapt to the behavior of introverts within their home. Some things subject us to change and some things never change.

Here in the Midwest, as in many parts of the country, spring continues to remind us of the planting season. Take a drive in the country or even appreciate your own gardening skills via the backyard. Food production agriculture goes on. Whether you buy food organically raised or conventionally grown, it is abundant for most, but unfortunately not all. Therefore, many of the “haves” should be ever thankful for this necessity that farms, orchards, gardens and the food supply chain provide. We should be grateful as well when other needs are easily satisfied, given the times.

Each of us — especially now within our own captive household — have an opportunity to thank God daily for what we are provided quite easily as a benefit of living in a country that produces much of its own food and other resources. Then, as best we can in “safe mode,” we can teach family members how to reach out to less-than-fortunate relatives, friends and neighbors who need help in their remoteness, and feed them in body and in spirit. It is pleasing to note that several parishes, food pantries and charitable organizations have developed safe avenues in providing goods to those in need. This is a heart-warming example of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action.

Integrated with my 24/7 ministry as a deacon, I continue to work in the field of agriculture — over three decades running. Currently, I’m a communications liaison for a company that serves a network of farm families in the procurement, production and marketing of pork. These farmers are diversified in both food animal agriculture and crop production. So, when you work in relationship with farm families, you need to connect the dots and try to understand the dynamics of the entire operation — especially the people. Hence, you gain a great appreciation for these food providers.

There are times, however, when I think I understand animals and plants better than I do human beings. Mankind, due to a “rational” free will and the human condition, sometimes tries to buck the laws of nature. Plants and animals — more conditioned to their environment to act instinctively and without abstract thinking — simply go with it. Defying nature doesn’t work. As stewards of the land and livestock, farmers understand this. They work through seasonal ebbs and flows. Subject to the weather, pest and weed invasions, and even coronavirus, they work to stay in business. For some, that includes the everyday caretaking of sick calves, pigs, cows or chickens. Come fall harvest, they reap what they’ve sown. Meanwhile, they learn that while grace builds upon and perfects nature, there are times you must roll with the punches it delves out.

Active spiritual leadership — watchmen on the home front — can help teach and practice this example. Sowing and reaping are active both spiritually and physically. Biblical teachings do much with agricultural analogies to deliver the results on what and how we “sow”: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). The Apostle Paul implores that “God loves a cheerful giver … and is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work” (2 Cor 9:7). Leaders, providers and protectors of the faith understand that all of this occurs in being self-gift to others — even in difficult times.

Perhaps we can add vigor to our lives during this safe-at-home ebb in life. Whether an extrovert, introvert or a little of both, look for ways to sow abundantly with time, talent and treasure. Seek opportunities at home, local food shelves and your neighborhood, or simply take time to provide words of encouragement to someone in need. Take a nature walk as your parameters permit and adapt to the current environment. With spiritual and material gift-of-self, we nurture Christian growth during the challenges and trials of our human condition. This guides us — as our Lord and Savior taught us — to be more fully human and closer to the divine life that awaits.

Deacon Bird ministers at St. Joseph in Rosemount, All Saints in Lakeville, and assists the Catholic Watchmen movement. Reach him at gordonbird@rocketmail.com. Learn about the archdiocese’s Catholic Watchmen initiative at TheCatholicWatchmen.com.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen