Recently, my daughter took on the job of watering plants for some friends while they were gone. As I helped her over those two weeks, we were blessed by the vibrancy of the colors decorating the yard. It felt a bit like a haven. Beautiful landscaping allowed for patches of intricately patterned blooms interwoven with yellows, reds, purples.
In the midst of these blooms, grew vegetables and fruits of assorted shapes, sizes and colors: tomatoes, beans, raspberries, zuchinni. Due to the diligence on the part of the owners, the fruit of these “vines” radiated life. It was a far cry from my sad little garden at my home. The one that every year I pledge to daily nourish so that we can consume and take joy in the fruits of our had work.. Unfortunately, me expectations seem to be too high for this season of my life. My garden currently consists of one row of bean plants, their poor spines bent over and many erupting weeds. My daughter pointed out at our friends’ garden, “Mom, you are supposed to stake up the beans!,” as if I didn’t know that. Oh, I knew it alright. It just didn’t happen.
At least I can enjoy someone else’s garden. And enjoy it we did! The vacationers welcomed us to pick anything that was ripe. What a treat! Cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, large Zuchinni (largest I ever saw!), beans and a few raspberries graced our kitchen. And I mean “Graced.” As we savored these delicacies, it got me to thinking about the process of gleaning in the Old Testament. Because our culture is becoming less agricultural, we have a harder time understanding the implications of some of the practices and metaphors told in scripture. Leviticus 19:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24:19-21 flesh out the commandments to the Jews regarding “gleaning.” In essence, farmers were to leave the unharvested outside corners of their fields for the poor to gather crops. It wasn’t just a task for the farmers; neither was it an act of charity. Gleaning involved the act of both parties trusting in God’s provision within a community. It was a public statement of acknowledgement that the Creator is the God of their nation; the God who sustains them.
Receiving our version of “gleanings” reminded me as well that the Creator is my God; the God who sustains me. This experience was literally a “taste” of a real gleaning but enough to connect with scripture, though written long ago, remains true through all time, all people, and all places. A I enjoyed our zuchinni cupcakes, tomato covered salads, and green beans, I am reminded that I belong to an ancient community of God’s people. A community made up of God’s people; through whom He works His blessings. I am left pondering what I can share with others. Probably not produce this year….But something else…time, money, food. Something that I don’t give up easily; thereby forcing myself to trust that God’s blessings are big enough to sustain all of us.