The fragrance of my father’s smoked ham and baking pies permeated every room in the house. As I walked into the kitchen, it was evident all my mother’s preparations had started early that morning. Potatoes were simmering on the stove, tomatoes were waiting to be sliced, and fresh green beans needed to be snapped. I knew that was my first job of the day before setting the table that was already extended as far as possible to accommodate the threshers that already were working in my father’s fields to reap the wheat he had sown last fall.
This was my favorite time of the year and one of my favorite meals. My mother, Delight, was every bit of her name in the kitchen. She had carefully planned for a bountiful table for when the men came in at lunch to eat. She had learned to do it when she was a girl in her own home and now it seemed not to be a chore at all for her.
I never tired of the delicious taste of my father’s smoked ham and a favorite pastime of mine was to slip through the English roses that lined the path to the smokehouse and peek inside at the sides of ham and bacon hanging from the ceiling.
As I finished snapping the beans, my mother was busy mashing the potatoes, and collecting the ham drippings for the gravy. Rolls were waiting to go into the oven where the pies had been a short time ago. Ears of corn were waiting to be dropped into a boiling pot. I peeked around the corner of the kitchen to the sideboard where the pies were cooling. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. The men would not be disappointed today. No one made better pies than my mother and certainly no one had mastered the crust she created. There would be apple, peach, raisin cream, and two cherry pies. We had finished picking the cherries only a few weeks ago and finished canning nearly 40 quarts of them one day.
I hurried to set the table as the sound of the combine stopped and the men started to make their way to the house. It was a festive time for everyone and the conversation around the table would be filled with stories of other years where harvests were not as good, other farms that might be failing, and the satisfying enjoyment of my mother’s feast laid before them.
It was such a celebration at this time every summer as we gathered the harvest, the fruit of my father’s labor, and blessed those who were hired to help bring in the harvest and enjoy the best lunch anywhere in the township where we lived.
This time of year always brings back these memories and the legacy I learned in childhood of sowing and reaping, harvesting and celebrating the evidence of the planting and tending. I loved benefitting from all of it, but the clear evidence of the spiritual principles that were being demonstrated during this annual tradition did not begin to soak in until I was older and my father had stopped the bulk of his farming.
As I stopped at the orchard this week to buy rather than pick cherries, my thoughts returned to the precious legacy I had been given. I also reflected on what the bounty of the Lord’s table will be like when He harvests all He has planted in our lives, in His body, the church, and on the earth. What a great celebration that will be! How much He must anticipate inviting us to His table. I cannot imagine the fragrance of that banquet, but I am sure I will be amazed at His bounty and so grateful for the invitation to be there.