A Joyful Path, Year Three – Week 31: Honorable Harvest — Story: Hello Friend

For Classroom or Home School



Week 31: Spring
Lesson 25: Honorable Harvest/Tree Visit Four (Optional)

I take only what I need and give back in return.

Getting to the Heart of the Lesson

In his highly praised book, The Prophet, Khalil Gibran wrote, “Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower, but it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, and to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, and to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.”

In the lesson this week, we are affirming the importance of reciprocity at its most generous or, in the language of First Nations people, the “Honorable Harvest.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Potawatomi Nation and botanist describes it like this, “Reciprocity helps resolve the moral tension of taking a life by giving in return something of value that sustains the ones who sustain us. One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more-than-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art, and in everyday acts of practical reverence.”

It is the space between Gibran’s poetic illustration and Kimmerer’s practical suggestions where we are invited to develop a spiritual practice. As with all spiritual practices, this one requires continual care and attention so we do not take life’s generosity for granted and, so that we are, in an ongoing way, present to our interdependency to and with all creation.

Teacher Reflection/Activity

Some reading and a 10-20 min exercise (more if you have time and wish to take it) so you are able to experience the teachings offered through this lesson.

What moral tension do you feel about the lives that are repeatedly taken so you can live (tree, plant, animal, fellow human, mountaintop)? What choices have you made about this tension? How do you make peace with this tension? In what ways do you practice the Honorable Harvest? (See Kimmerer passage in Wisdom Quote below.)

Read this week’s story. Make notes of the places in your life and routines you would like to bring greater awareness of the Honorable Harvest. Be sure to think about the more challenging aspects of the Honorable Harvest. For example, many of us are not accustomed to asking a plant or animal for its gift. We often are not prepared to hear “no.” It is also true there are relationships where the other species is counting on our engagement or interaction (much like the bees and flowers example above). Where or when have you minimized the gift you are in the life of another species?

You may enjoy watching a short clip on monastics in Southeast Asia and the ordination rituals they perform for the trees. Here is one video link. There are many articles online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVm_ ecCRRrM

Read through the lesson before your time with the children. Decide which Activity Exploration will work best for your class (There are usually two options; choose one.). Just below the heading, “Children’s Lesson and Story” you will find the preparations checklist for this lesson so you can collect any needed materials or make arrangements to support your selected activity.

Sacred Quotes

Christian Scriptures. Acts 20:35 (NRSV)

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Hebrew Scriptures. Psalm 37:21 (NRSV)

The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.

Islam. Qur’an 4.86

When a greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or at least of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things.

Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), Bhagavad Gita, 17.20-21

Giving simply because it is right to give, without thought of return, at a proper time, in proper circumstances, and to a worthy person, is enlightened giving. Giving with regrets or in the expectation of receiving some favor or of getting something in return, is selfish giving.

African Indigenous Tradition. Yoruba Proverb

One must pour cold water on the ground before he can tread on soft soil.

Wisdom Quotes

“When we talk about land, land is part of who we are. It’s a mixture of our blood, our past, our current, and our future. We carry our ancestors in us, and they’re around us. As you all do.” ― Mary Lyons (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe)

Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. ― Booker T. Washington

If you want something, give it. ― Deepak Chopra

No one has ever become poor by giving. ― Anne Frank

For it is in giving that we receive. ― St. Francis of Assisi

The Honorable Harvest protocol is not written down, but if it were, it would look something like this:

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life.

Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.

Never take the first. Never take the last.
Take only what you need. Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever. ― Robin Wall Kimmerer

Be sure to click here to download the Teaching Introduction and Instructions.

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