When I first heard mention of “Rogation Days” in an Episcopal worship service several years ago, I have to admit that most parishioners chuckled at what many of them likely saw as a quaint and outdated notation on the liturgical calendar. After all, most Americans get their food from grocery stores. It’s not like most of us farm for a living!
I now actually live on a farm (though we have other jobs to pay the bills), and I’ve come to greatly appreciate how much knowledge, skill, experience and plain hard work it takes to grow food. I, too, used to take food for granted, because it was so readily available I didn’t even think about it.
But after seeing my neighbors work the land in the hot sun, drenched in sweat, I now appreciate the wonder and pleasure of a ripe tomato, crunchy okra, and corn fresh from the garden. All of these are blessings!
And if you have traveled internationally, you might have noticed that in many countries, food is not so readily available. While visiting Eastern Europe several years ago, I dropped two dress sizes without trying and in the space of a couple of weeks; food was not as ubiquitous as it is in the United States. We found one “Western-style” grocery store – catering to tourists – and were delighted to find bread and cold cuts for dinner.
In many places around the globe, food is not a given. Grocery stores are nonexistent, and perhaps people appreciate their food more in places where it is not as abundant – something that might be good to keep in mind for all of us who live in places of plenty.
For the upcoming Rogation Days (starting Sunday, May 13), we might think about that tomato served with a sandwich, or that apple we eat for a snack. Someone grew that fruit. Someone worked hard to nurture that tomato. We should remember always to ask blessings on our food for nourishment and for life, and to pray for those who struggle to feed themselves and their families. Our earth is a garden — one for which we should be thankful, and use to the benefit of all human beings.
A special liturgy, “Blessing of a Garden,” is now available to help children understand and commemorate Rogation Days. Please click here to download this free resource.
Cynthia Coe is a Christian formation consultant and writer of Abundant Life Garden Project, children's formation materials by Episcopal Relief & Development.
Photo: Mat Luce, Farm Director and Director of Development at Episcopal School of Knoxville, helps students appreciate the hard work and blessings of growing food. Courtesy of Kelly Norrell for Episcopal School of Knoxville.
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