This is a guest post by Jeanne Allie.
This afternoon, I was preparing the bed to plant my garlic. I plant my garlic in the late fall; in late winter or early spring, before the snow has even finished melting, we’ll see the little green spears thrusting themselves through the soil…the first green of the season. So, my fall garlic planting is truly a treat I plan ahead for myself, to welcome all of us into spring after the long dreary winter. Today, God had another kind of surprise in store for me.
As I was pulling the hoe along the row, creating a trench for planting the garlic bulbs, I happened to nick a potato lying there in the ground. I wasn’t very surprised, since I was planting the garlic in the same area that I had grown potatoes this past summer. In late summer, I had harvested all of them, or so I’d thought. I put the potato in my pocket and continued hoeing. Before long, there was another potato, and, soon, another, joining the one in my pocket. By the time I got to the fourth potato, I’d dragged over the cardboard box holding my garlic bulbs to receive my unexpected treasure. I felt like I could practically hear God laughing. It turned out that, somehow, I’d missed an entire row of potatoes during harvest. “She found them!” I felt I could hear God saying. “I just knew she’d find them!!!”
I finished my surprise harvest, completed the trench, and planted all my garlic. Then, curious, I pulled my hoe gently through another area where I had harvested potatoes months before. That’s right: another potato. That row, having been harvested, didn’t hold as many surprises, but there were a good amount there that I’d somehow missed. While supposedly sowing garlic, I’d harvested more than twenty pounds of potatoes.
This surprise harvest has arrived at the end of a very long and difficult week for me. As I was gladly gathering the potatoes, I couldn’t help but reflect on God’s harvests in my own life. How many times have I been so focused on the sowing–the work at hand–that I’ve missed the “surprise” harvest God is bringing in? Where has God blessed my daily work with harvests that I neither planned nor expected? The week that has just passed, I had felt, was marked by discouragement, pain, fatigue, sadness and grief. I had been called upon to do a lot of labor that I had neither chosen nor even felt up to accomplishing. Were there surprise harvests in it? I could suddenly see that there were. There was the harvest of realizing I have friends who understand me and want to be God’s hands, feet and ears for me; there was the harvest of strength that I found within myself, that God supplied when I needed it; there were songs God sang to me in the night and hot meals shared with my family. There was a deep peace throughout and, finally, a time of rest.
Spring will come, and my garlic will sprout. By mid-summer, if all goes well, I’ll be harvesting bushels of garlic to enjoy in my own kitchen and share with friends. But today, I had another kind of harvest. My prayer is that the next time I am so acutely feeling the hard labor of life, that I’ll look for the unexpected harvests that God is bringing in. I’m praying that I’ll become better at trusting God for His harvests, even as I’m focusing on the sowing. I’m praying that, even tomorrow, as you and I are focusing on the holes being dug, the bulbs being carefully placed, that we’ll be ready to recognize the potatoes.
Jeanne Allie, 11/18/07
Jeanne is a professional musician, gardening and celebrating life in Northeastern Connecticut. She and her family try to raise as much of their own food as possible, and have found great joy in the journey.