|Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Waiting for an Answer. Some discernment going on here!|
A h/t to a lovely art blog, It's About Time, for this picture. And another h/t to Catriona for her reflections on the parable of the wheat and the tares. (Dear Catriona, if you're reading this by any chance, I did try to comment but, well, you know what your comment thingy's like!)
I had my own "aha" moment with this parable a few years ago, listening to a homily at Ampleforth. The field in the story is not, oh so emphatically not, "them" and "us". It is me ('scuse, grammar: it is I). I am the field. My life - inner and outer - my experience, my choices are the fertile ground where the wheat and tares grow. And while they're both young seedlings I can't tell the difference.
I recall a period in my working life when there were tares aplenty in the field. Often when I've looked back I've beaten myself up for not recognising them and thus causing myself - and others - a lot of pain. But reading Catriona's post reminds me how much rich and healthy wheat was growing there too - wheat that might not have grown had the situation been different, or if I'd tried ham-fistedly to root out the weeds. I'm sorry about some of the things that happened, but now I can give thanks for the time I spent in that particular field; I see now how I'm still being nourished by the fruits of that harvest.
What I hope I've learned, and hope that with God's grace I might do a little differently another time, is that then I blithely thought there was nothing but wheat in the field. Now I hope (though I still have plenty of blind spots - by definition, more than I know!) that I'm just that little more aware that tares will grow where I least expect them. With experience I might just recognise them sooner as they grow. I won't try to root them out myself, though, as then I'll risk pulling up the tender shoots of wheat. I must "pray the Lord of the harvest" (cf Luke 10:2). It's more about the art of paying attention - giving my energy to nurturing and watering what I want to grow, what will give health and blessing to me and others.
And another thing I've noticed in that parable. When at harvest time the tares are properly cut down they are burnt. I'm sure some version or other says that they're "thrown into the oven". I like to think that even the tares are not wasted, just given their proper treatment. They give light and heat, perhaps around a merry post-harvest bonfire or even used as fuel for the ovens where bread is baked from the wheat with which they grew.
Just some thoughts for this Lammas (Loaf-Mass) harvest day...