The term “Harvest Festival” is something that I remember from school. It was the week we took in cans of baked beans my mum had at the back of the cupboard and the teachers gave them to old people. As the years went on Harvest Festival became less and less of a thing in our school and by the time I started teaching it was a day the children brought in tins in return for a house point and we sent them off somewhere. Did the children in my class have any more understanding than I had? Of course not!
The past two weeks Alice and Louie have come home singing songs about tractors, fields and ploughing. To hear Louie singing is a feeling I can not even begin to describe. I never would have imagined him enjoying assemblies let alone be singing hymns. I asked Alice if it was a new song they had learnt in assembly and she said it was for Harvest Festival. From there I asked her and Louie what Harvest Festival meant and they both explained how the fields were harvested and the crops and food were ready for people to eat and how we should thank the farmers and God. On another occasion Louie pointed to a field and said “that’s corn mummy.” They know more than I have learnt in all of my 30 years!
I spoke to one of my friends in London this week and her children’s school have stopped Harvest Festival altogether. After some research and conversations with my neighbours and members of my local community I have a much better understanding of this celebration and feel that city children should learn about Harvest and all it entails just as much as children in rural areas. As I have mentioned in my previous post 5 things I have learnt about the countryside so far… since moving to the countryside I have developed a fascination for farming and how hard farmers work. I did not have any idea of the work involved let alone anything about crops and harvesting.
Today I attended the children’s Harvest Festival service at the village church which was beautiful with uplifting songs and prayers and thanks for what food we have and where it comes from. The church was beautifully decorated adorned with displays of fruit and vegetables, which is a tradition of the harvest festival, as well as donations from the local school and congregation.
The food from today’s and Sunday’s services will be donated to the Ely food bank. Ely food bank is a service that I will always be grateful for. When first moving from London we naively underestimated how hard it would be to find work even for a qualified carpenter and teacher. It took us a while to secure a steady income and it came to a point whereby I took myself to Ely food bank. I had sat outside a few times and never entered, pride getting the better of me. However when I finally swallowed my pride and went and met the volunteers of the food bank I was put at such ease. The ladies that greeted and spoke to me were full of kindness and compassion and made me a cup of tea and we chatted like old friends with plenty of tears along the way. It felt as though a weight had been lifted as they took me over to the tables full of donations and filled me a food parcel to last a week. Fortunately for us we quite quickly found our feet and no longer needed the food bank’s services but I will be forever indebted to them. Their warmth and kindness helped just as much as the food.
I urge any body who is struggling to visit them either on a Tuesday 11 – 12:30 or Fridays 1 – 2:30. All other information can be found through the website Ely Food Bank. I always ensure I donate a little something each week, at the various donation points in the local supermarkets. If you can please try, as they do run on donations and volunteers.
I am at a time of my life, at the moment, where I am for the first time ever questioning my faith. Sometimes, when I come to more difficult stages in my life, I find I can question my Christian beliefs. However today, on probably the lowest day I have felt for many months, I came out of the church feeling slightly restored and stronger. The message of the harvest festival is that of being thankful and as I looked around the church and saw my children’s faces alight with song and happiness, saw my wonderful neighbours and new friends made, I realise I do have a lot to be thankful for. Even though my family may, at times like these, feel far away I know we always have each other and that is something also to be thankful for and treasured.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend! (End of preach/sermon)