This article was originally printed in the October 2019 issue of Roqueta, Menorca’s English language magazine.
October arrives. It’s autumn – although who knows how autumnal the weather may be in Menorca at this time?! Looking back to the springtime, I wonder how many hopes or aspirations have been fulfilled, or how many disappointments have presented themselves. The passing of the seasons is perennial, and our preoccupation with it is deeply rooted in our agrarian ancestry, and our forebears’ involvement in the harvest of what had been planted in the spring.
Our post-industrial society is no longer so tightly connected to the seasonal aspects of planting and harvesting, since there is a whole industry devoted to feeding us. Sadly, this leaves us disconnected from the details of how our nutritional needs are satisfied, and perhaps less concerned than we ought to be about the disturbing effects of changing climate.
Nevertheless, this idea of seasonal sowing and harvesting has entered our consciousness to the extent that it affects the way we think about life in general. Or it ought to! I sometimes wonder whether young people think about the seeds that they are sowing in their youth, and the harvest to be reaped in the autumn of their lives.
There have been a lot of wedding couples in Menorca this year. Each couple is different, of course. But (mostly!) what they have in common is a love for each other that they wish to express by making a commitment to be together and remain together. I look at each couple and I wonder what they expect to harvest from their shared life, and whether they are thinking about how they influence that.
For young people today, it must at times seem almost pointless to try to plan for a future that appears to be increasingly variable and almost impossible to predict. It is rather like the weather in Menorca in early September this year: during the week with the storm, the forecast changed from a week of apocalypse to a storm on Tuesday and quite pleasant weather by the weekend. Two wedding couples were deeply thankful, of course, with ceremonies planned in outdoor venues. A week in the life of Menorca is one thing. A lifetime of similarly variable forecasts carries rather more trepidation.
I was (very briefly) in Carmel, California during September – the home of Doris Day for many years, until her death earlier this year. One of her most well known songs was ‘Que Será, Será,’ – what will be, will be. Which, incidentally, won the only Oscar that a Hitchcock film ever received. It is quite catchy, but listen carefully to the lyrics and you will find a degree of fatalism: the implication being that not only is the future not ours to see, but there’s no point in worrying about it. However, extrapolate that line of thinking, and you end up with the idea that the future is not our responsibility. But it is.
As humans, we have a responsibility to shape the future and not simply to be a victim of other people’s decisions and choices. In Christian terms, the kingdom of God is not about some airy-fairy spirituality for when you die; rather, it is about transforming the world here and now, thus creating a future that is more just, peaceful and fruitful for our children and grandchildren. This involves a real commitment to the stuff of life and the world in which we live. Fatalism is a denial of that responsibility. Commitment to playing our part in building what has been termed ‘the common good’ becomes an obligation that goes beyond simply claiming our own individual rights.
This means that whether we are young or old, we have a communal responsibility to consider what will be the harvest of what we are sowing in our lives. It is certainly true that young people embarking upon the fresh journey of marriage have a special responsibility to do so for their own family, but neither they, nor anyone, can ignore the basic fact that we are communal beings living increasingly on top of one another, with ever greater ability to affect one another’s lives.
So our spring sowings will result not only in our own autumnal harvest, but may well show up in that of others. If we sow healthy seeds, we may all benefit. If we sow weeds, then not only our own harvest, but that of others will be weedy, too. Metaphorically speaking!