Autumn is here, and October is a good month for reflecting on the Law of the Harvest: We tend to reap what we sow. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.
2009 has been a tough year for many. There is an opportunity for us with character-building this autumn. When we reflect on the Law of the Harvest, what is the habit we choose? Is our focus on the ‘reaping’ of what we have sown, or is it on the sharing?
When we think of harvest, most of us will imagine that Horn of Plenty: We think of abundance, and crops which a single family cannot possibly consume on their own. In old Hawai‘i the ahupua‘a system of land management (covering the island reach from land to sea) promoted sharing in a very common sense way: When fishermen and farmers combined their efforts everyone ate more variety and were better nourished.
But what happens when there has been a year where crops do not thrive as well, or the nets do not fill as they used to?
People get resourceful; that’s what happens.
We think about what we have, and not what we don’t.
(Here is a beautiful example, written by Joanna Young.)
Just as a fisherman will find a new place to cast his net, or a farmer will begin to rotate his crops, we of today’s Hawai‘i will find those ways in which we can try something new. We will reinvent. We will open our arms wider and invite others to join our teams (including those in our global neighborhoods). We will open our minds more, and consider possibilities we haven’t thought of before.
I know you will be creative and resourceful. My urging to you this month is this: Do not stop at the inventories you take, and at the reaping you do within your own backyard, or within the confines of your own family.
Challenge yourself to share the way that the best harvests are always shared: throughout community.
The harvests of autumn always lead to Thanksgiving; to Mahalo, and being grateful for all the elements which make our lives so precious to us. Count your ability to share whatever you have among the blessings you will be grateful for.
Our sharing is the true worth of the harvest
Though they did not refer to the phrase by its English conventions, our kÅ«puna (elders) taught the Law of the Harvest to me as “Ka‘ana like.” [like is pronounced lee-kay]. The phrase means to share or to divide if you try to translate it literally, but in their kaona, or hidden meaning, they meant, “we have shared in the work, now let us share in the joy it gives us.” It is less than joyful to reap without sharing: Otherwise, “Why bother?” they would ask.
Imagine the way this can come full circle: Sowing crops happens in a continuous cycle. We can sow our sharing as seeds of good intention we plant within our families, our teams, and our communities no matter how tough times have been. Fertile soil and ample fishing grounds can always be discovered when we look for them. Find them in the sharing you do this October; you will reap the joy.
Let’s try to reword that maxim a bit: This can be our Ka‘ana Like Law of the Harvest, knowing that yes, we do tend to reap what we sow. How does this sound?
“Sow a thought to share, reap an action by giving;
sow that action, reap a habit of ‘Ohana, community;
sow that habit, reap a character of abundance;
sow that character of plenty, reap a destiny of joy.”
My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
This is the need for our Ka‘ana Like sharing which weighs most heavily on my mind right now: Share your Sense of [Work] Place. It is where we must “open our minds more, and consider possibilities we haven’t thought of before.”
Here are two stories of how the need plays out each day, and they are magnifying in a looming crisis: Hibernation 2009. What can you do to help?