Because I have been involved in church events most of life, there are few events that I participate in now that are new and fresh. Mission’s trip—done that. Feed the homeless—done that. Pick up trash in the community—done that. (Not that it is all about accomplishments, but it is nice when I get to do something I’ve not done before.) However on Saturday, the church that we attend, Northland—A Church Distributed, was given the opportunity to do something that was totally alien to me. Gleaning. Many of you who were raised in rural settings know what harvesting is, but might not know this word.
Gleaning is the traditional Biblical practice of gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the fields to rot or be plowed under after harvest. Because the food is unmarketable, some growers allow crews of gleaners to pick what is left after harvest to donate to those who are needy. The Society of St. Andrew and The Second Harvest Food Bank partnered together to host this event at a corn field in Zellwood, Florida, with all of the picked corn going to the food bank to be distributed around Central Florida in order to feed the hungry. Growing up in rural Florida, I’ve done u-pick vegetables and fruit for myself, but it was special doing it for others. We ended up picking almost 2 semi-truck loads of corn. Wow!!
While I was out there in the blazing Florida heat, I few thoughts came to me that I’m pretty sure were unadulterated by the heat. I’ll share two of them. First, it would be foolish to think that the only positive thing that came out of the gleaning was food for the hungry. Although that was the goal, there were other aspects of the gleaning that were just as valuable, namely, building community. Many people believe that when they go on a mission’s trip, domestic or foreign, that they are to encourage others, but return knowing that they were the person who was encouraged. The same idea occurred in those corn fields as people who had never seen each other before were able to share their lives while picking for those less fortunate.
The other thought that was engraved in my head, was this idea of immigration. I know this is a political statement, so bear with me. There is a huge social and political debate happening right now about allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. Many of the immigrants, legal and illegal, that enter this country do so by working at jobs that no one would otherwise do. They usually migrate around the country working in the farming industry picking fruit and vegetable making literal pennies for what they do. I was ambivalent about their plight until I was done picking corn. I can now say that if they are going to do this type of work then they need to be adequately reimbursed for their hard labor and need to be allowed to remain in this country to do this type of work. We were immigrants, also, 225 years ago. Right??