The Law of the Harvest.
I teach my kids what “harvest” means early in the school year. Ah, the sense of abundance and overflow that autumn brings! It’s the result of patience and hard work and frankly, a little faith. It takes faith to trust that nature can “do its thing” without our controlling every step of the way. Don’t you think?
There’s nothing like the discovery of carving open a pumpkin for my first graders and announcing, “Ta Da! No one has ever seen these seeds before: YOU are the first!” And then we count ’em and talk about what might grow if we plant these seeds…apples? Grapes? Carrots? Noooo, only pumpkins! But incredibly, they are seed-filled pumpkins. Isn’t life amazing?
When I was a brand new mom—-of a daughter —-I was asked to be a den mother for our local Cub Scout den. Planning weekly activities for a dozen nine year old boys was not the way I wanted to spend my time. Let alone implementing those plans, considering the wreckage that always ensued. I’m proud to say that I come from a family of dedicated Scouters who have thrived on the scouting experience. But if you think I’m about to share how I ultimately fell in love with this program, you are wrong. I hated every minute of it.
It just wasn’t me. Even the Pack Meetings, where my only job was Sit There, felt horribly awkward. That Watermelon Cheer. The Blue and Gold Banquet. All through those months I kept thinking how great this volunteer job would be for somebody else. Somebody who loved making puppets out of Jello boxes, who knew how to convince kids to earn badges rather than run around my kitchen. Did I mention my daughter wasn’t yet old enough to crawl??
If you plant a pumpkin seed, nurture it, and wait…you will get a pumpkin. It will have more seeds inside. It happens. We don’t have to help much; life flows along.
Eight years later, and looong after my den mother moments had been archived, I was given another assignment: teaching Sunday School to a haphazard group of teenagers. Mostly boys. They’d already managed to chase out a teacher or two. You guessed it. These seventeen-year-olds were my ex-Cub Scouts.
They listened to me. They asked great questions. I kept thinking they’d get restless and quit showing up. I wondered when they’d stop laughing at my jokes. A couple of times they wanted class held outside under a tree. How could I tell them NO on such gorgeous Sunday afternoons? “You’ve got ’em in the palm of your hands,” said one observer who’d watched our discussion through the church window. “Awww, I just knew ’em from scouting,” I replied.
The diversity between each of their family backgrounds was significant. One boy, who’d only recently moved to our part of town, was particularly different. His father worked with Department of Corrections and the boy wanted to let us know he himself was no conformist, and had his own friends to hang with. Unfortunately, he chose to spend a Friday night driving around with those friends through a cemetery, knocking over tombstones. The whole truckful of boys was arrested. But it just so happened that Lee was the lone 18-year-old in the bunch, and was charged as an adult contributing to the delinquency of minors. Who were like, two months younger than him. The crime was reprehensible, and he was locked up. Lee was stunned that his childhood buddies were considered juveniles, separated from him, and practically “off the hook.” The courts were going to see to it nothing like this happened again, and it was all coming down on Lee. It didn’t help that his cellmates might learn his dad was a guard at a nearby prison. He was terrified.
My little Sunday School class loved Lee through that awful time. There was so much camaraderie and empathy and goodness in that group. Different as they were, they truly looked out for each other. As high school ended and their future plans evolved into reality, I watched that high-spirited bunch of boys demonstrate honor and respect and thoughtfulness in everything they did. One of them even became a Junior High principal. He’s influencing a lot teenagers right now. Pretty proud of all of them. Lee included.