It’s Harvest Festival at Beatrix Potter Primary School in SW London. As infants we sit cross-legged on a parquet floor surveying the colourful carpet of apples and pears, tins of peaches, packets of cornflakes and jars of jam, spread out before us. And, of course, craning our necks to see where our own small offerings are so proudly displayed, and so worthy of admiration.

How quickly, and from what an early age, we move from gratitude for the provision of God in Nature to attribute so much to our own efforts and consider only grudgingly how we might live more generously in return. We’re also slow to make connection between the tireless efforts of farmers, scientists, and agronomists in feeding a hungry world, and the over-provision on our supermarket shelves, on which we cast a careless eye and mostly take for granted.

Harvest is a moment to ‘look again’, and perhaps appreciate more fully, all that we are receiving, all the time. As Rowan Williams so rightly observes, ‘All is gift’.

From woodworm and honeybee, to family and friends, to sunset and night sky, we live in an enchanted world, a fathomless universe. We didn’t design or deserve any of it, yet we depend on all of it. Gravity is laid-on. Air is free. Love is without limit or price.

And why Harvest Festival? Because these plentiful gifts imply a Giver (and God likes a party).

Written by Andrew Knowles of St George’s Church, Kendal.

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