Every year there is a week when the vegetable garden hits peak production; when the cornucopia is so vast that it seems we can’t eat it or give it away fast enough. Oh sure, up to this point we’ve had our fair share of lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and sugar snap peas. But suddenly we are buried in ripe vegetables. For the past few days lunches and dinners have consisted mainly of cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, peppers, carrots, beans…. Eat faster, there’s more to pick! Enough! Well, maybe a couple of more jalapeño poppers, another ear of corn and one more tomato, but that’s really it!
Yet of course though the garden is at peak production, the summer is actually far gone. Flowers have faded, our bird houses are empty, having disgorged various fledged swallows, sparrows and finches, the spots on the baby deer are mostly gone. As I write this I can see a young buck out the window whose velvet will soon disappear. So while we dine today on a seemingly inexhaustible bounty of fresh foods, nature is whispering “the end is near.” For a couple of weeks or a month we feast, but soon and suddenly it will end.
How like and unlike our lives this is. We gorge ourselves frenetically on the fruits of this world, both good and rotten. But how rarely do we really listen to the voice of our deep conscience, echoing the words of St. Peter that “the end of all things is near” (1 Pt 4:7). We think of our lives themselves as having seasons. Youth is springtime, young adulthood is summer, late middle age is autumn, and old age is winter. For the non-Christian that metaphor perhaps fits their notion of earthly life. Truthfully, it is more accurate to say that our entire lives on earth are lived in only one season, the season where the light of the sun/Son is most oblique – winter. Summer does indeed follow that winter, but it is an eternal summer, warmed by divine fire. And it will indeed include feasting, because it will be the wedding feast of the Lamb. To ensure that we are invited to that eternal feast we must not only shun the rotten fruits of this world, but avoid hording the good ones.
To anyone who gardens, let this temporary abundance be a sign to lay up for yourselves stores in heaven, because our earthly cornucopia is fleeting. The divine summer is coming, the winter of the world is far gone. Here’s to eternal summer!