When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.
Christmas has come every Wednesday this summer. By that I mean that gifts, both surprising and amazing, have arrived every Wednesday when the share of our CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) box was delivered by a gentle, German Baptist man named Karl. Though he may look Amish to the untrained eye, his van keys and his place behind the steering wheel of the delivery vehicle is a dead give-away. Karl arrives every Wednesday morning with boxes of produce grown by Amish farmers in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the dead of winter when it didn’t seem it could get any colder, we purchased a share in the hope and promise of summer. In doing so, we agreed to be in a relationship with those who not only plant fruits and vegetables but do so out of an understanding of their faith. And with that purchase and in that relationship, Christmas has arrived every Wednesday.
The calendar I consult every day has the Vietnamese proverb above printed in lovely letters for the month of August. It is a robust month filled with all the goodness, and often abundance, of summer foods. This week, in addition to our weekly box of fresh produce, Karl also delivered an open box of beautiful, large, heirloom tomatoes….brilliant red, sunny yellow and lime green with stripes. “There are extra tomatoes this week! Give them to everyone!” And so all those who purchased shares got extra tomatoes along with some of the staff at the church who lovingly work their jobs every day and have marveled at the comings and goings of the boxes of produce.
So many times over these weeks of summer I have “thought of the person who planted the tree”. I have wondered at their lives and how I now feel a kinship with them in a way that I don’t often with my produce purchased at the grocery store. This is a shame, of course, because the vegetables and fruit purchased there also represents lives and the hard work of growing and tending. However, unlike the produce purchased at the store, our box of goodies also contains a letter written by someone on one of the farms. Sometime this letter is written by a child…..always a treat. Other times the writing reflects an older person or at least one whose life is reflective in a way that dazzles me. Often these reflections center on what life has been like on the farm that week or a particular favorite activity that is enjoyed in the community.
“The early morning is a special time of day. Dawn starts to creep across the land and darkness of night slips silently into the shadows. One by one the stars fade and are lost from view. An expectant hush shrouds the farm soon to be replaced by many sounds and activities. What will the new day hold? A veil of fog hangs low over the fields. Everything has been refreshed by a sip of dew during the coolness of night.”
These words are plucked from the letter tucked into this week’s box. Clearly, there are poets among the farmers as well. This attention to the movement of Creation and our two-leggeds connection to it all is the work of the psalmist. This reminder is nutrition for body, mind and spirit and fills me with a joy that is so much more than the calories needed to keep my body moving in a whole and healthy way in the world.
In just a few short weeks Karl will no longer pull up to the door in his specially rigged up refrigerated van. The food that makes its way to our table will be chosen from the heaping mounds of produce that has traveled thousands of miles to get to the grocery store shelves. Writing this brings a certain sadness. And yet the ability to “think of the one who planted to tree” can continue. Perhaps this summer’s experience of relationship can extend the table to the countless hands and lives that work every day, seen and unseen, to bring food to all of us. Scratched on this week’s letter was also this scripture from Genesis:”And out of the ground made The Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.”
And so it is. Summer, fall, winter, spring. Our hearts can be full to overflowing for those who plant and tend and toil and harvest. Those who work in the fields and orchards. Those who carry and load. Those who box and sell. This food with sustains us comes through the sacrifice and toil of so many. And the grace of the One who breathed life into all Creation.