Autumn is here. A chill has crept into the weather, and a long Sunday afternoon walk was rounded off with a run back to the house to escape the start of rain – rain that continued to fall for many hours into the night. Autumn is the end of the ‘growing season’ and, this month we will celebrate Harvest, a time to remember our good fortune in bringing in the stores and provisions to keep us going through the lean months ahead.
Living in our modern, supermarket-supplied, cellophane-packaged world we might sometimes forget that Harvest remains an important part of our year. The year-round availability of produce can lull us into a false sense of security with regard to the essentials in life. Too many schoolchildren today are unaware that carrots grow in the ground, or that milk has a quite strong relationship to the presence of big, smelly cows.
But real, nourishing food cannot be manufactured in a factory. It may be processed to an unrecognisable form – but the need for light, air, wind and rain remains essential for the magic that is the growth of a plant or the complex development of an animal. Creation remains, to most of us, an unfathomable mystery. Yes, the processes by which animal and vegetable life can be started and continued can be reasonably explained; but the spark of creation is hard, if not impossible, to replicate. It may be possible to clone sheep, and to modify crops genetically – but the basic starting blocks are those that nature provides. They are not assembled from nothingness on a scientist’s workbench.
As Unitarians, we recognise we are part of this unfathomable mystery; our bodies and lives are a miracle of creation. As living organisms, as part of the wider world of nature, we must surely benefit from aligning ourselves to the natural rhythms of nature. We are part of the ebb and flow of life, we are constituent parts of this great natural world. Like the plants and animals, we might consider these colder months as an opportunity to slow a little, to recharge our batteries whenever we can. We should not be afraid to take a step back every now and then. Let Harvest be one of the reminders we need to keep pace with nature, and to learn the lessons of all creation.