A few mornings ago, I got out the package of blueberries I bought the day before to put into my yogurt and granola for breakfast. I admit that I had a twinge of annoyance as I started to take them out to rinse to see how many still had stems on them. This package seemed to have a lot more than usual and it took me some time to get the stems off before I ate them. But as I was doing this, I felt another twinge (more of a conviction) as my thoughts began to shift not from me picking off a few stems from blueberries as I stood in my kitchen getting ready for the day but to the pickers who originally pulled them off the bushes. I thought about how many hundreds (thousands) of berries they had to pick each day, likely not getting much payment for it. I finished up this package of blueberries this morning and each day from last week until now, I felt led to pray for those men and women who had picked these at some point in the recent past. I also this morning googled a story that speaks to the life of those who do this for a living –
But what does this have to do with the Psalms? Well, Psalm 129 (this morning) starts out with the following:
“Often have they attacked me from my youth”
—let Israel now say—
“often have they attacked me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed on my back;
they made their furrows long.”
I know that the writer of this Psalm was probably not thinking about those picking food in the fields but it did lead me to thinking about the life that many of these men and women lead – the story linked above also shares the challenges and difficulties this life brings – and how I (we?) so often don’t think about what brings food to our tables each day. I thought about the ways that many have experienced oppression because of ridiculously low wages and dangerous working conditions and hours. I think about how miserable I felt being outside in an incredibly humid day but I wasn’t bent over picking strawberries having the sun beat down upon me.
I often hear a line in prayers for church meals where we pray for God to bless the hands of those who prepared the meal. I wonder if our prayer also ought to include not just those who cooked and served but those who picked it, those who sorted it, those who slaughtered it (yes that too), and each person along the way.
Amazing how some little stems can speak of so much.