“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven;
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot …”
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Unopened seed bags are stacked six high on pallets in the shed. The restless farmer checks the online weather forecasts. More rain to come tonight. The John Deere tractor and planter will sit idle another day.
The farmer — my husband — has acre upon acre to plant here, some with corn and some with soybeans. But nary a seed has been dropped in the ground this year on the Lee farm, and we’re just shy of May 1.
Earth is awake. Its surface has been readied, overturned and smoothed into a bed suitable for planting. But it’s too wet, and more rain is coming.
There is no real urgency — yet — but the farmer is ready to dig into rich, Iowa soil. Instead, he sits at his laptop in the kitchen, with clean hands and fingernails, while I tap away on the keyboard here in the office.
We talk about the weather, not in the casual tone that folks do on the street, but in the way that farmers have done through the ages.
It seems a farmer would never have peace with Earth or with God outside of a place called surrender.
“God is in control,” the farmer reminds me from his seat at the computer.
I agree, then offer this in return: “You know, we’ve never missed a harvest yet. The harvest always comes.”
He chuckles, and then begins to hum a song on the kitchen radio. With “How Great is Our God” on his lips, the farmer waits.
The photo was taken shortly after we’d moved here to the farm. I had left a news-reporting job where the harvest was plentiful and always came quickly. Seeds planted on Tuesday produced a harvest in Wednesday’s paper.
Then, we uprooted, moving from the city to the farm five hours away. A photographer from the paper took the photo to accompany a farewell essay I wrote to newspaper readers. I wrote of our renewed connection to the land, and of the beauty of rural life.
“My view is a horizon interrupted only by silos, trees and the white steeple of a country church. My back yard is a freshly planted bean field.” I wrote. “My home is rural Iowa.”
Yet the optimism disguised deep fears — that the move here would end the harvest.
Hadn’t the God who declared a time to plant also set aside “a time to uproot”?
Did that mean it was over? What would I do with these seeds still lining my pockets?
I bagged them, then stacked them high on pallets. I would wait.
“God is in control,” my husband reminded me. Like the farmer, it seemed the restless writer could only find peace in the surrender.
And then the phone call came during harvest last fall. Would you plant seeds here, on this college campus?
So I did. Saw the harvest today, in six faces.
Today was our last class together. Gathered on couches at the Dordt College coffee shop, my six writing students and I cupped lattes and frappe smoothies while we spoke of the timeless craft of the written word — a craft almost as timeless as planting crops. We spoke of ways God has gifted each of them. We reminisced, and laughed, and then the time came to say goodbye. They picked up papers, pens and bookbags … and walked away.
That was it. Gone.
The harvest had already come. So quickly. Yes, the harvest always comes.
Even so, all of them walked away with seeds in their pockets. And so did I.
For there is planting to be done.
” …at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” — Galatians 6:9