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  • Gracie Carmichael

Reaping a Grateful Heart-Harvest this Autumn

Dear kindred spirit,


I'm so glad you could join me today. This autumn day is radiant with amber hues, and crisp with a westerly breeze scented as only an autumn day can, of falling leaves, a drizzle of rain, and a world that is just beginning to think toward the long, slow sleep of winter's due.


Embracing the beauty of a seasonal lifestyle has become a mission of mine. I live in the upper midwest of the United States, where winter dominates much of the year, and spring and autumn are known as transient, passing beauties, so dearly adored though here so very short. It seems to be a yearly tragedy that I remember so little of autumn besides, for everything becomes a-hastening and a-bothering and a mad sort of rush to the holidays and the subsequent end of the year. Perhaps it would do us a world of good to take a note of wisdom from the little burrowing creatures who know better, and who take this declining year in stride as a time of slowing down into a lull of peace and leisure in hibernation...


With every year I trust that a little more wisdom will help me cherish the beauty of a seasonal lifestyle, and while at present all about us is the glory of crimson and gold-arrayed autumn beauty, I'm dwelling on how to treasure this season and utilize it to make life fuller, lovelier, and more meaningful.

Bringing in the Harvest

This beautiful period of the year is marked by the end of the harvest—the final reaping of rewards from our labors, realizing the prize earned for hard work and sacrifice, and the remembrance to honor the hours of toil that allow us to enjoy today's full and abundant harvest. I want to encourage you to think beyond home-grown produce! ;) There is a metaphor somewhere that's asking your heart to accept an even more precious harvest...the abundance in your life, and the recognition that it, too, has come to you through sowing and reaping. I believe that a grateful heart is the happiest of hearts, and as the harvest season comes to a close, I'd like to encourage you to reap the heart-harvest that was sown this year—sown in tears or toil as you dreamt of all that you strived for—and all that has arrived because of it.


For so many of us, this year and the last have been marked by a considerable change in our personal lifestyles, means or circumstances. Perhaps you have faced moments of crisis, moments of wondering what the uncertain future may hold, or questions of which path to tread when so many—or too few—lay at your feet. But for all of our struggles, some of which may be presently ongoing, we have triumphed over so much. The little victories and small steps should be heralded with triumph, for all about us is the knowledge that we have reaped good things, after all.


I think so often of a chapter from 𝘓𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘔𝘦𝘯 in which Father Bhaer tells the boys of Plumfield to plant seeds of a different kind in their metaphorical "garden plots."

Now each of you tell me what crop I shall try to sow in you this spring, so that next autumn I may get a good harvest out of my twelve plots,” said Mr. Bhaer [...]. Each of you think what you need most, and tell me, and I will help you to grow it; [...] I will begin with the oldest, and ask the mother what she will have in her plot...for we are all parts of the beautiful garden, and may have rich harvests for our Master if we love Him enough,” said Father Bhaer.

The Plumfield boys (plus Jo and Daisy) then choose which "seeds" they'd like Father Bhaer to help them nurture and grow...

“I shall devote the whole of my plot to the largest crop of patience I can get, for that is what I need most,” said Mrs. Jo [...]. Franz wanted perseverance, Tommy steadiness, Ned went in for good temper, Daisy for industry, Demi for “as much wiseness as Grandpa,” [...] The others chose much the same things, and patience, good temper, and generosity seemed the favorite crops.

-𝘓𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘔𝘦𝘯, ʟᴏᴜɪꜱᴀ ᴍᴀʏ ᴀʟᴄᴏᴛᴛ

That passage remains one of the dearest things I always remember from Little Men. It reminds me to reflect on what I've sown amidst the difficulties and joys and quiet moments of the year, and recognize the reward for my labors. It is terribly easy to become so burdened by our troubles that the beauty in our life is overshadowed. I know it's true for myself, and so many of my own struggles this year have seemed at times vast and unconquerable. I have the choice to look on this year's heart-harvest two ways: A) How hard things are, even still! What possible good has come of it? or B) It's not as hard as it used to be, because I can bear my troubles better than I used to. I'm stronger for them, and though it hasn't been easy, these days/months of self-sacrifice and hard work have caused me to reap a selfless, patient spirit in the process.


I think the latter outlook is a good deal more heartening (though I confess I am not impervious to the former in some moods, ha!) Perhaps you, too, have reaped the rewards which the boys of Plumfield dreamt so fondly of achieving: good temper, steadiness, perseverance and industry. Whatever your reward, dear kindred spirit, it is worth recognizing and celebrating. As I stated earlier, I do believe a grateful heart is the happiest, and as such I think it's a beautiful thing to reflect on the abundance of life that we so often forget to appreciate. Whatever seeds you sow, are they aught if you cannot recognize the climbing blooms, growing heavy now from carrying so much bounty, waiting to be harvested?


Harvest is coming to a close now—on the farms and in the home-grown gardens, leastways! But, "Deep roots are not reached by the frost," to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, and as the cold draws nigh in winter's approach, know that there is yet growth, though it be unseen, working in your own heart. It is not too late, and graciously never will be, for you to reap your sweet rewards. That reward is all about you even now! The dream of a future achievement leaves hopes and knowledge and wisdom like a trail before you as it leads to the golden triumph. A future milestone may already be bringing glimpses of its sweetness in your path as you steadily work toward it!


I hope this encourages you, dear kindred spirit, with all the sincerity of my heart. May you continue to sow and reap with loveliness in sight, and while on your journey, remember the dear heroes and heroines of the stories so beautiful and beloved, reminding us that...


"...While we wait we may all work, so these hard days need not be wasted."

Little Women, ʟᴏᴜɪꜱᴀ ᴍᴀʏ ᴀʟᴄᴏᴛᴛ

Thank you so much for reading, dear one, and as always I would be delighted to hear from you! If you fancy sharing some of the joys of your heart-harvest this season, or would like to talk amongst kindred spirits for more encouragement, you can leave a comment below or send me a message here. :)


Until next time,

-Gracie

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