Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Morning Meds--Abundance

“You crown the year with your bounty, 
and your carts overflow with abundance.”
Psalm 65:10

If I’m near water, I eat fish.  Lobster in New England, crab cakes in Seattle, smoked salmon on Lake Michigan, grouper in Florida.  In northern Minnesota, nothing tastes better than walleye right from the lake.  Well, maybe nothing but perch.

Out East, I’m sure, one can get a really good leg of lamb; but if you want it done right, you may have to visit Australia or South Africa or New Mexico, where sheep are taken seriously.

But if you’re on the hunt for a pork chop or a chunk of filet mignon that melts in your mouth, then visit my corner of the world. I live in a red meat country whose bounty will take second place to nobody’s Angus. Our cattle are corn-fed, not half-starved in mesquite groves or pastured out so the meat is grizzled as leather chaps. We pamper our beef here in Siouxland, and our hogs grow up in confinements so climate-controlled the residents never see a cloud. My old friends in southern Wisconsin call their prime Swiss cheese Green County Gold; well, our stock in trade is glorious red marble.

But it’s just about all we do, agriculturally. Sure, there are a few dairies around, but mile after endless mile of farmland where I live is perfectly lined with just two crops, corn and beans. And all that bounty—and tons of grain are produced here annually—all of that bounty goes to livestock, to cattle and hogs, to the red meat on your Hardee’s sandwich and the sirloin you buy anywhere in America and even around the world.

I should be proud—and part of me is. But our bounty, and our success, is more and more attributable to just a few good men and women. With every passing year, farming—agriculture—agribusiness—is less and less a family affair, as fewer and fewer landowners work more and more ground. The distance between producer and customer has lengthened exponentially since the days of what was—a century ago—subsistence farming. What that means in terms of Psalm 65 is that fewer and fewer of us, even here in the heartland, really rejoice at the climactic phenomena David finds so blessed.

Right now, all that good ground is mantled in new snow. But if I drive a couple blocks south, a massive pile of corn and/or soybeans still sits on the ground like so much waste.  It isn’t, of course; it’s surplus. The bounty this fall was immense, probably too much, torpedoing prices. Some folks drive by that huge pile and admire the abundance. Many don’t because out here sometimes too much is, in fact, too much. 

A good friend of mine told me once that people who don’t put seed in the ground in don’t know God. That strikes me as a hair judgmental, but I know what he means, even though I’ve never lived on a farm. What I’m saying is that I’m guessing there are fewer and fewer, even here, who delight in David’s immense joy.

The real blessing of Psalm 65, whether you work the land or a Dell computer like the one in front of me, is the inspiration one receives from David’s attribution of his overflowing joy to God’s abundant blessing, the reminder his bliss that our blessings—all of them-- come from the God who made the heavens and the earth around us, around all of us. 

It’s not something I think of when some waitress slaps a half-rack of ribs in front of me on a Friday night. It’s not something I think about in late March snow or even April showers. That kind of attribution, like faith itself, is not something my human nature conjures on it own. 

One of the blessings of Psalm 65 is the reminder that not a dime’s worth of our immense abundance comes our way without the showers of God’s eternal goodness, his love.

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