At August 1st we have reached the first of the traditional harvests, Lammas – the cereal, or grain harvest. We are entering the time of the “fields of gold”.
Lammas, or “Hlaf mas” (“Loaf Mass”) as it is known in the Anglo Saxon, was a time of celebration of the first fruits, the cereal crops. Our word “cereal” comes from the Roman god, Ceres, who was known as the Grain Goddess or Corn Mother – provider of the fruits of the earth. Grain was associated with the gods and goddesses of resurrection and the underworld; Hades, Demeter and Persephone all playing a part in this story. It is not difficult to see why this was so…
Many months ago, when the days were short and the nights long, the earth was tilled, and the seed carefully placed into its womb. There it remained, a seed, dead to the world. Yet something mysterious and magical began to happen – the amazing act of germination. No-one was there to observe it, the world was busy getting on with the ordinary and mundane. Yet this seed took hold, sending forth roots deep down into the ground in search of water, nutrients and stability, whilst at the same time propelling a shoot upwards, against the downward pull of the earth, up towards the light, which, whilst still in the earth, it was unable to contemplate or observe. At some point, that shoot burst forth into the light – and something incredible happened… rather than attempting to rely on its own food reserves which were by now all but used up, it began to photosynthesise, a process utilising all the elements of fire (sunlight), earth (nutrients), water and air (carbon dioxide). The seed achieved its ultimate potential, its true “full bloom”, not by being self-reliant and remaining as a seed, but by giving itself up, letting go, dying to itself, and by taking hold of all that was available to help the growth of that which would develop as a result.
Our lives are like the growth from that seed, in our minds, bodies and spirits. In our formative years, we put down roots and stretch upwards into maturity. The things we root ourselves in can have a lasting impact on our lives, for a season, for a lifetime and even beyond. As we advance in years, we encounter new ideas, new ways of being, and we begin to explore new ways of thinking. Each of these plant seeds into our lives which begin to grow, based upon the “fertility” of the soil into which they land. Some seeds never germinate due to the ground being too hard to accept it. Others germinate but are crowded out by competing and conflicting ideas. Still others may grow for a while, but then whither due to neglect caused by distractions. But some, some manage to take hold in that little patch of prepared soil.
Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Harvest, said of himself once when speaking of his impending crucifixion, “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and everlasting.” His death and resurrection provide the life-giving fulfilment of this both for himself and for us too.
Are we willing to hold on to our life, just as it is? Or are we willing to step into the adventure to which the Resurrected Lord of the Harvest beckons us; one in which we daily die to our older, more negative ways of being which choke the growth of new seed in our lives? Are we willing for this to occur so that growth of new, positive seed may have abundant life and fruitfulness? Life which impacts those around us in such a way that reproduction of this new life continues in others, allowing the Kingdom of Heaven to burst forth into this world for the benefit of all.
Blessed be you this Lammastide.
 John 12:24-26 (The Message – alt.)