Tag Archives: harvest

Year of Self-Compassion #38 #harvest

The snow peas are now fruiting and some have already made their way into a salad bowl and a stir fry.  The simple act of sewing a seed and watching it grow, is constant reminder of human stewardship and the elements co-creating to bring life. In a week that started with the end of what was a long good-bye, I am ending it with a focus on harvest.

I really felt my brother’s presence at his funeral, in the stories, in the love expressed in the eulogies and in the faces of his offspring. It was a harvest and I was able to give witness to a life that I wasn’t always familiar with – I left home when he was twelve and he lived all over the country during his adult life. I got a glimpse of him as a community builder through his sporting activities mainly and I was reminded that enthusiasm and connecting is enough, talent and perfected skills are actually over-rated.

Harvesting is pleasurable. You can take a moment to reflect on how far you have come, on all the stages of development, bask and gaze at the finished product, acclaim and honour for the result of all that has gone before. From the collecting of stem cells and blood products, to data and knowledge, harvesting is also often about storing and preserving.

This week I was introduced to the idea of sovereign language repatriation by Dr Lou Bennett, McKenzie scholar University of Melbourne (although for me she will always be one of the harmonies in Tiddas). Together with her input and that of Dr Simone Tur on sovereign data of Aboriginal people and its application, I have been unsettled by the colonisation project and how data is harvested and appropriated and incorporated into systems that do not serve. The harvesting of knowledge to exclude and divide can also be used to unite and foster commitments to change. But when I think of campaigns like Close the Gap – the data hasn’t shifted much on some of the key measures; and are they the right metrics anyhow? The assumptions underlying will always need to be examined.  It has made harvesting a little less pleasurable for me this week, yet I am inspired and deeply challenged about how the sovereignty of Aboriginal peoples can be the first and last word in the harvest.  Deep down I have a sense it is only going to be from the rich vein of First Nations our planet can be healed and so what can be harvested from the connection to land and embodied spirit in language on country is the ultimate gift awaiting those of us who are not First Nations people.

Harvesting requires getting the land right first, the conditions for growth, tending, nurturing – it is at the end of a process and in the harvesting you are stripping away what has been.  Not all harvesting is pleasurable as I find it in my garden. There is the harvest that denudes a hillside, the harvesting that strips a soul bare, the harvesting of body parts and human recycling.  There are lots of harvests and in bringing in the ideas of repatriation of coming home to where the data, the words, the spirit belong and from that place be gathered up before being cast back into the world.

Coming home to yourself is a kind of harvesting. The garnering of all that has been flung to the winds and now being collected and held in, is a harvest for well-being, a harvest for healing, a harvest to sew the seeds for a new season.  This new season is being heralded in language, song, story and is all about reclamation not colonisation. It is about holding on and finding what can be repatriated, what can be brought home as well as uncovered already there. There is pruning and weeding of foreign bodies that have snuck in, unwelcome, and severing of what is dead and no longer serves. There is the preparation of the next harvest built into the clearing away of the current one. The bounty may not yet be visible and is held in the promise of the dark.

The self-compassion lesson speaking to me this week is to look twice at harvest and to check what is serving and healing, what is reaping and what might be raping, what is appropriating and what is celebrating and what can be repatriated and returned home to myself at my disposal. Bringing yourself home to your own vulnerability and is the way to personal harvests. Connections help you find your way home to yourself.


Dr Simone Tur, me and Dr Lou Bennett at ANZSWWER Symposium 2018, Flinders University



Promises to Tomorrow #11 Harvest

On the way home from my weekly walk back from the Farmers Market in my little village a neighbourhood stopped by to say hello and to offer some freshly harvested cherry tomatoes. The season is coming to an end and she offered me a question about endings to accompany her gift: How is it facing separation, knowing it is coming? And in a flash not only had she picked the fruit for harvest she picked a piece of my heart as well.

The inevitable ending confronting me as a little of My Love disappears each day was front and centre and I thanked her for the tasty red balls delivered in the brown paper bag as a I silently continued along the path keeping the tears hidden so not to ripen before I got home. 

What if we lived our lives fully conscious of our disappearance and the disappearance of those we love and indeed the knowledge of the disappearance of our species, other species and our planet? We would live differently I am sure – we more regard for beauty and an arc towards wisdom and skips of joy solidly walking with gratitude.

The poet and philosopher David Whyte asks us to contemplate being in an apprenticeship to our disappearance. In this apprenticeship we learn from and lean into others who can help shape our thinking and desires. We sip from cups of knowledge around tables in cafes, kitchens and bars. We hold onto the sunsets and sunrises as reminders of the every turning truths each day and night holds.

Having a promise to tomorrow orientated to apprenticeship is underscored in the knowledge we are all indentured to those who have gone before us. The reward for the apprentice is to learn from the master and in these post-modern times not everyone has a master to drawn on, yet as the Celts (among others) know well, mother nature never fails to teach and she brings to every class universal lessons of the elemental nature of play, time, hopes and dreams. The tiniest of the tomatoes contains more the enough seeds to bring a future harvest – they are indeed a promise to tomorrow of fecundity and the sweet smell of new life. And the vines in my neighbourhood have started to be harvested too – the seasons are turning all around me.

So despite the heart breaking, as it is prone to do. When you love, and separation is inevitable, the wonder and joy of the new season is also on offer, and the instruction not to hurry to the next season until this one is fully complete and harvested is the promise to tomorrow I met on the road this morning.



First press

First press

Dear Sor Juana,

I love how vineyards reflect the seasons and the cycle of life and at this time of year the harvest is on around me, in the cool of the evening when the sugar has reached its desired level bunches of grapes leave the vine. It is vintage.

The picking by human hand or mechanical beast methodically works its way down each and every row, leaving behind stalks, lizards, snails, earwigs and hard dried pellets of grapes dehydrated by an unseasonal heat wave. The care of the vineyard manager to bring the best yield forward to market, with the promise of a bonus is in the air. You can smell the fermentation already beginning in the waste dumped on the soil behind the sheds, and the early juices are rising to the top in the bins waiting for collection to go to the winemaker. It is vintage.

Harvest in Hand

Harvest in Hand

A bunch of grapes clings together and only has meaning as a bunch, individual grapes always look very lonely to me.

I am sure you loved grapes and wine Sor Juana and you did write about racimos (cluster) in your play and had fun with Bacchus the god of wine and Racimo as characters in a farce – your appreciation between wine and a bunch of grapes shone through! I visited award-winning vineyards this week as a racimos – three old friends and I – a lovely afternoon in the sunshine of the Fleurieu Peninsula. All from similar root-stock, although grafted onto different varieties we shared our common appreciation of place, story and wine. It was a vintage all of its own the colour of shiraz , deep, sweet and harvested, sipped in between swigs of Family Reserve in the kitchen at Finniss.

The metaphor of vines, vineyard and wine is never a cliché for me – it is a constant connection to art and science and the cycle of life and it is vintage.  All the senses are open and my love affair with where I live continues.

Vines on Finniss

Vines on Finniss

The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

 — David Whyte
from Songs for Coming Home
©1984 Many Rivers Press


Gratitude Practitioner

Glen Helen, NTThis has been a week where ‘my cup runneth over ‘.  Family achievements of love, life and learning were in plentiful supply.

How to live in this space of giving thanks and holding the dynamic of being present enough to notice all the micro moments where grace can be found is a discipline. You need to practice your gratitude – or at least speaking for myself I need to practice it.

Last Sunday amidst the celebrations of love and life, clinking of glasses, giggles of small children, and the kookaburras call – a woman came up to me. I didn’t recognise her and she gave me hints of how I might remember her. She had come into my life referred to me by the local priest as someone in distress and needing support in a decision to stay or leave a marriage. As a counsellor and confidante of the clergyman, he thought I might be able to help.  My referral networks were extensive and in very good shape so I had no doubt I would be able to assist her.  Sans a place confidential enough for a conversation in the church buildings, I took her to the beach where we walked and where she sobbed into my arms, grieving for a love lost and feeling completely without a compass, skills or knowledge on what to do next.  She was worried that people might notice me holding her and think we were lesbians – it was more than 20 years ago and those thoughts were common.  It was only when she revealed that memory that I put the clues together and remembered her.

Between then and now there have been many women both professionally and in my personal relationships who I have comforted at those moments of deep sadness.  I was very touched that she came to speak to me … but wait there is more.  I asked her how had things worked out. She turned around a pointed to a man who was now her husband and had been so more 17 years. She had healed from the visible and invisible scars and had truly made a turnover and recovered herself. She said it was that day on the beach that helped; that freed some of the chains that had been holding her back to take the next step to wholeness.  We shared our stories of the man who had brought us together and gave thanks for his wisdom in making that moment happen.

I was overwhelmed to receive the harvest of a lifetime in a single moment with this connection.  She had known I was going to be at the event, was looking forward to being there so she could tell me how happy she was and she laughed, how through her heavy sobs that day she added to her worries by wondering if she was going to be tagged as a lesbian by passersby!

(Fortunately those attitudes to lesbians are dying out and congratulations to NZ for passing the same-sex marriage legislation this week.)

The grace that comes by being grateful seems to be exponential. The little things we do everyday may well be the yeast in someone else’s life. That day on the beach, I was just doing my job, responding to a request from my mate the local priest – sure I was equipped to help – but it was nothing less than nothing and that is when I know I am a ‘feather on the breath of God’ and give thanks. The harvest took more than two decades to be revealed to me and what an honour it was to be witness once again and see the fruits of another’s journey.

Trinity Spring and Harvest

Dear Hildegard,

In less than three months I will be taking my pilgrimage off shore to Italy, Ireland, UK and a UAE.  I am preparing in various ways the body, mind and soul. I am reflecting on the work of David Whyte as central to the journey; and knowing that it might be just as important not to be prepared. I am remaining as open as I can be to the elemental experiences that lie ahead.

As part of the preparation, I have been reviewing Whyte’s The Three Marriages. I remain drawn to the thought that “sometimes the best thing we can do is to hold a kind of silent vigil beside the part of us that is going through the depths of a difficult transformation” (p340f).

I have actively been keeping vigil and the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter have been a wonderful companion to me in this time.  As the Easter tide opens, I find I am falling in love with myself and  my work again.  This is both a relief and a joy. I have some of the symptoms and signs of falling in love. I find myself smiling and giggling. I think about what I am going to wear and what I am going to look like, people are saying I am looking younger and brighter -even glowing!  There is an innocence and awe  too. Child-like, I am embracing this new beginning and trying to come to this new space, fresh.  I am still finding old habits creeping in and at times the old lover haunting me like a phantom or even stalking me like a domestic violence perpetrator. These moments are now infrequent and more often than not, impotent.

For Whyte it is not a work-life balance, but a marriage of marriages. This trinity is three marriages: to our self, our partner and our work.

“Doing something innocent, dangerous and wonderful all at the same time may be the perfect metaphor for understudying one of the demands made by a marriage of marriages: the need to live in multiple contexts, multiple layers and with multiple people all at the same time without choosing between them. A kind of spiritual and imaginative multitasking, but in which we attempt to be present to everything occurring, to have a foundation that will hold them all and not be distracted by passing details” (p352).

The foundations are holding me well and the tedium of distracting details are falling away as they no longer serve me (or in reality never served me at all).

I am in a virtual and real time cornucopia.

I am reconnecting with old friends. I have been selected to present at the next TEDx event in Adelaide. I have had surprise visits from people special to me who have done me the honour of seeking me out in their precious time in Adelaide. I have received happy news of love and commitment. I have been greeted and affirmed in familiar and surprising places.  I am blessed. And on top of all this, my physical pilgrimage is getting closer by the hour.

As the snow melts in your homeland Hildegard, and the spring flowers start to find their way to the sun (the Easter season makes more sense in the Northern hemisphere than in the South), I can see and feel and touch and taste and smell and intuit that spring has come in my heart too.  The steps I am taking in my journey seem a lot lighter right now. (This could well be preparing me for what lies ahead and so be it.)  But for now, my basket is overflowing with all the fruits of the season and the season is both spring and autumn.

Your love, dear Hildegard, of all things green, and your instruction to be green and to do green things, I think is not just about creation but also about ourselves. I hear it as a call to renewal and spring time.  You reflect that when we warm ourselves by the fire in the winter, it is to store the heat and energy to move closer to the light so we can stay ‘wet and juicy’ and catch the greenness of good works and the energy of the heart.

“The soul that is full of wisdom is saturated with the spray of a bubbling foundation” (cited in Fox, M  Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen p.64). The intimacy that occurs when we connect ourselves to our foundations, keep watch and allow for both the spring and the harvest is a pilgrimage all of its own.  The journey is fuelled by the energy of love that delivers abundant justice for ourselves and the planet – all fruits of our labour and our love become visible once again. Maybe Whyte’s Three Marriages is your Trinity ?

“A flame is made up of brilliant light, red power, and fiery heat. It has brilliant light that it may shine, red power that it may endure, and fiery heat that it may burn” (Hildegard of Bingen The Ways of the Lord p.68).  The marriage of marriages weaves my commitments together. Being in love with more of those marriages brings a harvest in my season and the green shoots of spring in yours.