I took a day off recently, and sought the quiet and comfort of my favorite retreat house, Francis House of Prayer. This is a sprawling farmhouse in the midst of 72 acres, most planted with soybeans. The view to the left is from the back of the house, and you can plainly see there is a labyrinth cut into the lawn!
There, under the watchful eye of Sr. Marcy, I gathered with 10 other people to enjoy a day with God. It's so quiet there in the fields! It was a lovely fall day: chilly, with clouds and patches of blue sky, and a light wind. This is my favorite time of year, as the old year draws to its close, the days grow short, and I look forward to nights by the fire. I wandered outside after doing some lectio and still-prayer, to enjoy the glorious view. The leaves were sadly past their peak, but the open sweep of farmland seems like heaven to this suburbanite.
The picture to the left is not very good (the light was fading), but you can see my favorite bench, with fields of soybeans beyond. Now, I come from a long line of farmfolk on one side, but my own farming knowledge is limited to the occasional tomato plant or small pot of herbs, or to flowering plants I keep on my porch in the summer. So when Sr. Marcy mentioned to the retreatants that the soybeans would be ready for harvest in about two weeks, I was surprised.
It seems late for harvesting anything, at least to me, but what do I know? Just as the rest of us are battening down for winter, the humble soybean, apparently, is coming into its prime. The plants don't look like much, as you can see: in fact, they look rather dead, as if they had already been harvested! The soybeans themselves are about the size of peanuts. and hang from slender stalks.
So I sat on my bench and thought about soybeans ripening in the cool autumn days and chill autumn nights, and about God's harvest surprise. As in the natural world, so in the human world. How many wise older people do you know, folks who have come into their own after the job was done and the kids were raised, and started new careers, businesses, hobbies just as their families were about to consign them to the rocking-chair? I know many myself. I would like to be one of them.
Late bloomers, those soybeans -- kind of like me.