Poem 8 – An Ode to the Harvest Festival

Why celebrate Harvest in our technological age
When food is sown, grown and reaped afar
Arriving prepared, cooked and packaged in film
Just 3 minutes at 800 watts and voilà

Is this an annual grasping of a lost idyll
A pastoral dream of bygone days
An imagined ‘Good Life’ where we’re all farmers
For one day without pressures and rain

Now we’re encased in our towns it’s irrelevant
Shielded by wifi and data and 4G
When a click of a button summons crates to our doors
Full of tins, plastic trays and our tea

Perhaps now our harvest is on Instagram
In a zoom meeting or on a stage
A harvest of ideas and creation
Of electricity, fears and dreams made

But hasn’t the last year exposed the fallacy
Of systems frail that quickly become fraught
Locked down in our home we can no longer see
The shortages that we’ve bought

The queues at food banks become longer
It seems that we’re all overdrawn
Is it time for us to stop and ponder
Is it because from its source we’ve been shorn

Have we learnt that our harvest is precious
Farmers, drivers and shopkeepers too
Perhaps after all this celebration
Is a relevant thing to do

As a Fen boy, the annual Harvest Festival seemed a natural thing to do, after all I grew up surrounded by fields full of corn and farmers complaining about the forecast downturn in the weather. But now I work just outside London and this world seems far away. Every year as I lead our Harvest Festival as a minister, I find myself asking the question, what does harvest mean here, and wondering if we need to broaden its definition to include all forms of fruitful endeavour. Perhaps this last year, however, with the pandemic, panic buying and pressures on supply lines has highlighted once more just how important our food and its harvest is.


© Ben Quant 2021

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