Having grown up in a city like Chicago, there is often a disconnect between the source of our food and the food that appears on the table. This, I think, is especially true during periods of plenty. It is almost as if the crops are raised in the storeroom, right next to where the cows are milked.
On 13th October we had our Harvest Vespers and a Harvest Mass this morning. After the Office of None (9th Hour) the other postulant, the novice and I were asked to make a special arrangement for vespers. Basically we were given a little less than 2 hours to come up with a concept, collect the materials, and arrange something "harvesty." A few members of the community offered helpful suggestions like, "use fruit," or "use some ivy." At first the suggestions did not seems so helpful, but we were able to utilize them. We sat down to plan a few things, and went off to get our supplies. Then God's inspiration kicked in to high gear. Not only did I pick up what I was supposed to, I picked things for the one arranging flowers. The one getting fruit picked up other things for decoration such as a field worker's hat and gloves, a scythe, and hay (to the calves dismay, I later heard). I picked some strands of red ivy, and some fine branches with red and golden leaves. Another picked strands of grape leaves. Within forty-five minutes everything was arranged, and it looked like every single thing had been planned to the nth degree. While we did use some things that were not grown here: pineapples, coconut, and oranges for example. The overwhelming majority of that which we displayed came from our land. We had milk, honey and eggs from our animals. We had jars of gooseberry and black currant, and red currant jam. We had not only some ears of corn, but the (top 3 ft.of the) stalks as well. The flowers picked from our own garden (Thanks Fr. Hilary) made for quite the impressive display. And with my American background, when I saw a pumpkins, we had to add it.
In my opinion, sometimes when we attempt to be grateful to God for every single thing in our lives, we miss the mark. There is just way too much. Sometimes when we focus on one single thing (or concept) for which to be grateful, we can really direct our energy, thoughts, prayers, and voices. And this produce, literally from our own back yard, sustain our bodies. So we pause at this time to thank God for the bounty of the earth and our sustenance.