A View From The Vicarage, October 2016
I wonder if you’ve been watching, as we have, the latest instalments of the BBC’s current dramatization of Winston Graham’s “Poldark” novels. I have to admit that despite having vague memories of the original BBC production from the 1970s and thoroughly enjoying the latest production, I’ve yet to read the novels themselves.
One recent episode which I watched the other night included some wonderful and bucolic scenes of the gathering and later the celebration of the harvest. Such images, combined with the writing of Victorian novelists such as Thomas Hardy remind us of a time in our not very distant past when a successful harvest meant for many rural families the very real difference between starvation and survival during the lean winter months ahead. The Welsh name for Harvest Thanksgiving; Diolchgarwch Cynhaeaf means quite literally thanksgiving before winter, reminding us of those less affluent times.
Thankfully, for the great majority of people in these islands the correlation between a successful harvest or a winter of penury is now little more than a collective folk memory or the subject of enjoyable costume drama. However, let’s not forget that there are people in our own communities for whom poverty is not a distant memory of other times but a daily reality. I’m truly grateful for the wonderful work done by the Kington Community Larder and do encourage you to support it, if you don’t already.
Despite the fact that many of us are no longer directly involved in agriculture, harvest remains an important milestone in Kington.
Embowered as we are here amidst some magnificent and varied landscape we can’t fail to be aware of the toil taking place in the fields and farms around us. Even if our personal engagement with it is just the backdrop of harvested fields and bales of straw, hay and sileage or simply being caught behind a tractor carrying whatever it is, we surely can’t fail to be aware of the hard work taking place on fields and farms around us.
Throughout his teaching Christ repeatedly uses agricultural images as metaphors for the Kingdom of God, indeed you can trace the progress of the agricultural year through his parables. many of these images remain remarkably relevant for those of us fortunate enough to live in a working agricultural landscape.
As we gather this year for our Harvest celebrations we give thanks not just to God for the fecundity and bounty of the earth but also for the dedication and labour of the multitudes of people who work with such dedication to care for it and to provide the food which the rest of us probably take for granted much too often.
Let us also remember that each and everyone of us has an integral in the agricultural economy whether as producers or simply as consumers. The decisions that we make individually can dramatically affect the lives and livelihoods of those who work on the land. So let’s give thanks to God that once again
“All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.” And let’s not forget to commit ourselves to support our agricultural economy in the purchasing decisions that we make not just at harvest but every day of our lives.
With my love and prayers, as ever