A full harvest

Oct 10, 2018

Life is a thing of many stages and moving parts.

What we do with ease at one time of life we can hardly manage at another. What we could not fathom doing when we were young, we find great joy in when we are old. Like the seasons through which we move, life itself is a never-ending series of harvests, a different fruit for every time.

The skill of life, of course, lies in harvesting well and harvesting always, in taking the best that life has to give at any stage, in being patient with ourselves along our way. The Sufi tell a story about what happens when we force things: Once upon a time, the story goes, a seeker found a cocoon resting quietly. Intent on seeing the butterfly within, the seeker held the cocoon in loving hands, breathed warm breath upon it and watched with excitement as the butterfly emerged. But hardly had the newly hatched beauty spread its wings when it died. “Why did my butterfly die?” the seeker asked the Holy One. “To teach you a lesson,” the Holy One said. “Everything can be born in due time; nothing can be rushed.”

The secret of life is to let every segment of it produce its own yield at its own pace. Every period has something new to teach us: The harvest of youth is achievement; the harvest of middle age is perspective; the harvest of age is wisdom; the harvest of life is serenity.

The Rule of Benedict tells us to do all things with counsel, to learn from those around us who have already gone the way before us, to ask the opinion of the entire community when making major decisions. Those are all good lessons. They can save us from ourselves. They can stop us from forcing butterflies before their time. They can make the harvest full.

—from A Monastery Almanac by Joan Chittister (Benetvision)

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