Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Cat's in the Cradle"

Leviticus 19.9-10 “The Message”

“When you harvest your land, don’t harvest right up to the edges of your field or gather the gleanings from the harvest. Don’t strip your vineyard bare or go back and pick up the fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am GOD, your God.”


While my capacity to receive and give love is presumably ever-expanding, there are limits. I can love more and better as I grow in Christ, but I cannot specifically and personally love everyone. The world is too large for that. I can, however, love everyone in my small part of the world, that is the people God graciously placed in my life, starting with my immediate family.

I would like to be a force for positive change and leave the world a better place than I found it. But the world’s a big place. Understanding the limits of my influence may equip me to do a better job of loving those closest to me. They certainly deserve that.

Agriculture was the main economy of the ancient world of the Bible. Moses insisted that farmers were not to “harvest right up to the edges” of their fields or “gather gleanings from the harvest.” They were to demonstrate God’s love by allowing those who lived close by to “pick up the fallen grapes.” A farmer could make more money and elevate his financial position if he stripped his “vineyard bare.” but leaving some fruit on the trees and ground was evidence of his obedience to God. The farmer’s harvest leftovers benefited those in closest proximity to him and proved his love for the whole community. A land owner could not help everyone in the entire known world, but he could certainly assist his immediate neighbors, those who were geographically near.

I sometimes become so focused on my harvest work that I forget to reserve even the leftovers for those I love the most. I am a blessed man with a wonderful family. I must not “harvest right up to the edges” of my available energy. Rather, I should leave some for my family. If my son wants to shoot some baskets or play catch, I’ll find the time. There’s no need to strip the “vineyard” of my schedule “bare” or “go back and pick up” one last phone call or email. At the very least, my dear children deserve “the [daily] gleanings” and “fallen grapes” of my love and attention.

The application of this verse reminds me of an old song...

Cat’s in the Cradle

by Sandy and Harry Chapin from the 1974 album Verities & Balderdash

My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking 'fore I knew it,
And as he grew, he'd say,
"I'm gonna be like you, dad.
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?"
"I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?"
I said, "Not today, I got a lot to do."
He said, "That's ok."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmmed,
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?"
"I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?
"He shook his head, and he said with a smile,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?"
"I don't know when, But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind.
"He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you.
"And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?"
"I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."
_________________________

The painting above is called Les Glaneuses (The Gleaners, 1857) by Jean-François Millet who was part of the Realism Movement that began in France in the 1850's.

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