Father Paul Mark comments on God’s Harvest Bounty: “August inaugurates harvest season for us monks. We have been harvesting fresh fruit and produce for house use all summer, but August brings with it the grape harvest and ensuing crush, with a special harvest schedule, since all monk hands available need to be out in the vineyard picking grapes by 7:00 each morning. As the grape harvest is underway our prunes ripen and by the third week of August the harvesters arrive and begin their work shaking every individual tree. And finally, when September arrives, our walnuts are ready. Since the monks now contract the harvesting of the prunes and walnuts the pressure is less for us than it was when we monks did everything ourselves. Nevertheless, the harvest season represents a culmination of a season of intense labor caring for our orchards and vineyard. It is greatly satisfying to see the end results as well as to plan for quieter, cooler days post-harvest.
In mid to late fall, we will harvest autumn fruits for house use such as apples, pears, plums, persimmons, guavas, jujubes, and pomegranates and near Christmas the oranges begin to be picked.
I have always marveled at the bounty of nature, a reflection of God’s gracious generosity, a sign of God’s providential care for his people. This thought gives me hope that no matter the disasters, catastrophes, violence, and grief that daily news headlines bring God is present with us and for us. This hope is conveyed through the prophet Habakkuk, when to encourage the Israelites at a time of national disaster he says, “Though the fig tree blossom not nor fruit be on the vines, though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment, though the flocks disappear from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength.” Hab 3:17-19.
Wishing you all a fruitful season,
Your brothers of New Clairvaux