Praying for fruitful land – 10 May 2021
Here is a picture of fertile land, a ploughed field bursting into life. This is a picture intending to represent well-being and peace in the land. The picture is full of texture, the paint thick and the brush strokes short lines. It gives the effect that the fields have been knitted, the walls made of mosaic, the hills patchwork, and the sky embroidered. This is the land as a created entity, made and good. Here the eye is drawn from the bottom of the picture up the ploughed furrows, where new shoots of green are appearing, up to the sun in its appearing, so to life and hope.
The first days of this week, the three days before Ascension Day, have traditionally been ‘rogation days’, when the Church has prayed for God’s blessing on the land, particularly that crops would be fruitful and the harvest that comes at the end of the growing season abundant.
The painting, Enclosed field with rising sun (1889), is By Vincent van Gogh He painted this view outside his bedroom window while at a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy in southern France. In a letter to his friend and fellow artist Emile Bernard he wrote: “Another canvas shows a rising sun above a field of young wheat – receding lines, furrows that run to the top of the canvas, towards a wall and a row of lilac hills. The field is purple and yellow-green. The white sun is surrounded by a large yellow halo. Here, in contrast to the first canvas, I have tried to express calmness, great peace.”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
in your goodness you have given us this seed to sow.
In it we perceive the promise of life,
the wonders of your creative love.
By your blessing,
let this seed be for us a sign of your creative power,
that in sowing and watering,
tending and watching,
we may see the miracle of growth,
and in due course reap a rich harvest.
As this seed must die to give life,
reveal to us the saving power of your Son,
who died that we might live,
and plant in us the good seed of your word.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
By itself the earth produces:
first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain shall appear.