Thursday, October 26, 2017

It’s not what we gather but rather what we scatter that defines our life.
Jon Francis

That quote seems like an unlikely motto for the Thanksgiving season.  Fall is our time to focus on harvesting.  If  you have been following the Preschool Face Book page you may have noticed an occasional  post, including pictures, of our preschool garden.  Our students planted seeds and small plants last spring.  Family volunteers watched over the garden through the summer, watering and weeding when it was needed.  By mid-summer we  began to harvest cabbages, zucchini, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.  In September our students participated in digging potatoes, onions and carrots.  They picked green peppers, more tomatoes and flowers.  It was an exciting time as we dug through the dirt and found edible treasures hiding there.  Now we have gathered over 150 pounds of produce from the garden.  That’s not bad for three, four and five year olds and their helpful adults.  
We are not just gatherers!  To live a thankful life we must also “scatter.”  We have received the gift of food from the land, rain and soil.  We have done the work of planting and received more than we could eat.  Now we needed to gift others with our food.  Ralph Reeder Food Shelf was the recipient of our produce.  We want to say, “We love you!” to our community and this is one way we have chosen to define ourselves.  
Thanksgiving is about “scattering”  much more than gathering.  The Pilgrims were able to celebrate their survival in the new world thanks to the friendship of the Native Americans who shared their knowledge of  hunting, fishing and agriculture with the Europeans. They were also thankful for plants that blessed them with medicine, food, shelter and light and for animals and their gifts of food, fur, and bones for tools.  In return the Pilgrims planted, harvested only what they needed and worked to preserve the clean water and air.  We receive, we are thankful and we give back.  Life is reciprocal.  
We can all “scatter” this fall, whatever our age, economic situation or ethnic background.  A smile for someone, helping a neighbor rake leaves, walking someones dog, watching a friend’s child are all ways to define ourselves as instruments of God’s love.  Caring for the earth by living sustainably shows our thankfulness for the blessings of our world.
Who is Jon Francis you may ask?  I first met Jon when he was in high school.  He was a friend of my daughter’s.  God became a part of his life in high school. In college he earned a major in Religion.  He spent summers as a Bible Camp counselor and youth minister.  In 2006 he was on his way to seminary to become an ordained pastor.  Before his studies started in the fall, his love of nature and rock climbing brought him to The Grand Mogul in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains where  he climbed to the summit.  He never returned.  It took a year to find Jon and bring his body home.  It was heartbreaking for so many!  As a part of their healing his parents formed the Jon Francis Foundation.  It honors Jon’s life and helps others who are searching for missing adults.  Promoting safe wilderness adventures, training Minnesota law enforcement officers for search and rescue, and offering grief support for families are all a part of what the foundation does.  The Jon Francis Foundation is an example of reaching out and “scattering”  in our community.  
I am thankful for the many blessings I have gathered.  Lord, now help me scatter your love to all around me.  Amen