Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.W.E.B. DuBois
The air was crisp, not the cold of a shiver but the cool of a sweatshirt. The clear, blue sky framed the sun casting its softer, orange self across changing trees and bright wildflowers holding fast to the ending of their season. Miles and miles of fields, recently full of yellowed stalks of corn and beans, were quickly being emptied of their abundance. The top was down on our Jeep and we were deep in the sights, sounds, and smells of this Fall day.
The empty fields beckoned us to a cross country ride among broken stalks and rough-hewn ground while forested swaths between fields called us to the silence of a walk among falling leaves and earth made soft by moisture held beneath the tall canopy. A few remaining rows of corn towered over us as the breeze brought the distinctive woosh of the brittle leaves on stalks moving in unison – a sound that, if one shut her eyes, might convince her of some massive presence moving through the corn.
October in Indiana is magical. As much as I love to see mountains, feel the sandy beach, or hear the ocean, the beauty of our Autumn holds my heart with a special affection. We are now in the tenth month of 2020 and, in spite of a year of challenges, the beauty and magic of this season remains.
Six months ago, the life that is now changing colors was just beginning to emerge. The crops that are now being harvested were just being planted. I find it a bit curious to think that, as we were locking down to battle COVID-19, the seeds of this season were being planted and then, throughout the pandemic, were growing faithfully, magically, beyond the struggles we’ve endured.
We are in the harvest, the result of all that was sown so many months ago. Many of us are looking at the calendar and thinking, “I can’t believe it’s October 11.” Eyeing the end of another year, we ask ourselves, “where did the time go?”
I’ve seen the t-shirts and memes talking about how terrible 2020 has been. Some of them are funny but the dark humor doesn’t mask our sense of loss. Lives have been lost. Jobs have been lost. Money has been lost. A thin veneer of safety has been lost. Trust has been lost. Some even feel that time has been lost – as if the past six months were some kind of black hole in which everything stopped and all we could do was wait.
Yet, looking around, we see the harvest return again. The reaping of all that was sown so many months ago. Apparently, not everyone lost that time.
Life went on. The ebbs and flows of our existence took some new twists and turns but the cycle continued. We saw the births as well as the deaths. We saw the successes as the failures consumed headlines. We saw much good as mostly bad filled our minds. We learned while being reminded of persistent ignorance. We feared while the sun continued to rise and set and rise again. We waited for answers and direction while life moved on.
Walking among harvested fields and turning my eyes toward the changing colors patterned across the enduring trees, I contemplate the distance traveled in 2020 and smile as I consider the future. Some are harvesting right now – in this very moment. Some are reaping the hard work invested before and during the spiritual, intellectual, and social droughts of 2020. Some are not waiting.
Yes, there are some who are thriving in this moment and not because of government largesse, special favors, or profiteering. Some just kept pushing on hopefully. Those same people are continuing to plant because they know another harvest will come. They are investing in relationships, in businesses, in their mission, and in themselves. Next year, we will be calling them the “lucky ones.” Guess what? It’s not luck.
Walk across a field today or find a path into the bright colors of a nearby woods or visit a local pumpkin patch. Take a moment to look at this year’s harvest and the simple glories that mark its passing. Then, consider your harvest. Whatever your feeling on your current harvest, there is good news: another harvest will come.
No matter the stage of your life or the challenges ahead, another harvest awaits. You just have to plant today. And again tomorrow. And the day after that. In this way, you secure your future. In this way, you weather storms, recessions, pandemics, riots, and elections. In this way, you make your own luck.