There is this field in  my mind and in it I am reaping what I have sewn.

Every day all day I am reaping what I sewn.

And it is always day.

There is one row of the field and it is endless, almost endless in front of me and behind me.  This one row is my row.

There are other rows endlessly to my left and to my right.  Others reap what they sew in these rows.

Strange plants, knee high and desperate for water are in front of me.  They have these fruits.  Strange fruits, wrinkled and coarse.  So feeble are the stalks that one of these little fruits weighs the whole thing down. 

I pluck the fruit from the plant and I place it in a sack tied to my belt at my left hip.  The sack doesn’t ever seem to get bigger when I drop them in, though I do this nearly endlessly.

It doesn’t ever seem to get smaller when I reach in and pluck one out to eat it.  It does not taste like anything and I do not eat because I am hungry.  I eat it in the place where I am endlessly reaping what I have sewn because that is what I must do.

I move slowly and I trample the naked stalk under my booted feet.  I am holding this wooden thing which is tied to something heavy behind me.  It was a thing designed for a beast and not for a man.  A large wooden piece, with two rusting chains trailing back behind me.

The chains are linked to something enormous behind me.  I pull it slowly.  It crushes the naked stalks beneath its wieght. 

The thing that I am dragging digs a rut in the ground.  When I reach the nearly endless end of the row of the field where I reap and sew, I will turn around.

My yolk and the thing which the yolk drags will disappear.  There will be another sack then, at my right hip.   I will walk only slightly faster than before.  I will bend down and place the seeds in the little rut I dug. 

There are things that do not make sense.  One of them is that on the trip down I have enough arms to hold the yolk and pluck the fruit and drop the fruit into the sack.

Something else that does make sense is that by the time I reach the very end of my row in the field the fruits have grown back up again.  I had reaped.  I shall sew.  And the yolk is back.

I do not know why I do not look back behind me.

I know that it is some great boulder that I pull.

It is both a rock and a metaphor and my hands grow blisters that are both metaphoric and true.

That rock is the weight of my selfishness.  It is the weight of my pride.  It is the weight of my hurt.  It is the weight of my self sufficieincy, and my delusions.

It is as large as a house and my hands bleed where I push at the yolk.

And I remember that there was a man who said that his yolk was light and easy.

And yet he said I should take up a cross for him.  He said I should lose my life for him.  He said these things that I did not understand.  He was the one who told me I will reap what I sew.

And I do reap what I sew.  But I do not believe those other things he said.

I keep on not believing them until suddenly I do.

It is not a yolk I am hauling anymore but a cross, suddenly.  A cross.  His cross.  My cross.  The weight is different.  It is light and yet it is not.  Because it is not my strength that carries it but his, his strength somehow through me.

And this is not a burden meant for a beast.  This is a burden made for a man.  It is the wieght I was born to carry.  It is both easy and not-easy, but I was born to carry it and the strength does not come from me, to carry it:  it simply flows through me.

I reach down and pluck one of the fruits by my knees.  I am surprised at its redness.  I am surprised that it is sweet. 


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “Reaping”

  1. Great poem!!! Very moving and evocative.

    Thanks so much for dropping by the watercooler last Wednesday at Ethos. This poem would be a great addition to the conversation today around the watercooler.

    Thanks for your writing and your blog!



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