Nurture Your Soul – Summer Devotions Series
by Cara McLauchlan
“Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with ripply cheer
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now, because God wills it.”
–James Russell Lowell
It’s hard to believe the idea of canning fruits and vegetables came from Napoleon Bonaparte. Yes, it’s true. With concerns looming as to how to feed the troops in eighteenth century France in the winter, Napoleon offered a reward to anyone who could come up with a way to preserve food without spoiling. The French modeled canning ideas after winemaking and the rest is history.
As for me, I don’t think of Napoleon and canning. Grandmas in white winged aprons and front porch swings come to mind. I imagine rows of lovely labeled jars holding sweet memories and delicious treasures of the season. Canning brings up the dreamy and wonderful, but not something available to me. It is reserved for people with grandmas who shared long held heirloom recipes passed down for generations.
I never knew my grandparents; they had all passed away by the time I was born. Over the years, this thought held a sense of loss. Friends would speak of going to their grandparent’s home or taking vacations with grandparents. For me, if felt like an empty void. The legacy of my grandparents would never be something I knew personally.
Standing in the grocery store one summer, I saw a beautiful canning magazine. Usually I look at those glossy covers and take a deep sigh. Instead, I bought the canning magazine and decided I would learn. Through homeschooling, I have come to appreciate that I can learn literally anything I want to learn, even canning.
That summer I was on a canning mission. My mom, my son, and I spent hours in the kitchen preserving tomatoes and every imaginable jam. We made strawberry jam, peach jam, blackberry jam, and apple butter. I learned how to freeze and preserve corn and sun dried tomatoes. Those long days in the summer gave way to a sweet satisfaction of rows of bright-colored jars and the fruits of our labor.
In my mind, I was reclaiming something that had been lost. Perhaps I was creating a new tradition, based on old things. Canning felt like a nurturing and loving thing to do, both for my family and myself, but I think it’s more than that. There is something completely surprising about opening up a jar of jam that was made on a gorgeous July day. For me, enjoying summer corn in January reminded me that splendor is always available to me, if I only choose it.
God was a genius when He created summer. Our seasons give us appreciation for how everything grows in time and as it is ready. I don’t think you can eat a perfectly sun-ripened tomato without knowing deep in your soul that it could only be made by our Creator. Throughout the Bible, God gives us this powerful metaphor of tending and nurturing the land, and planting and watching things grow. The season of growth ultimately gives way to the fruit and the harvest of our labors.
In this way, God casts a rich vision for our homeschooling efforts: to demonstrate that our labors will not be in vain, that perhaps in this season or maybe not even in this lifetime, we are cultivating beautiful things for Him. We are toiling in the fields as we nurture our families in loving God, loving each other, and loving learning. We are designing a rich garden of splendor that will feed generations to come.
Yesterday, I went to the Farmer’s Market and loaded up on tomatoes, corn, and all the lovely fruits of the season. My plan is to can this week and store up some memories for my family and the winter ahead. I can’t wait to see my jars line the shelf and to fill my freezer with the bounty God so lovingly gives us. I will smile, think of Napoleon, and give thanks.
How will you savor the splendor of the season?
Read Psalm 65
How can you be intentional this week about savoring the summer season?
Consider how many summers you have remaining with each of your children. Make a list of the things you would like for them to experience before they complete high school. See if you can check one item off by being intentional with how you sow your efforts this week.
Also, if you have grandparents still living, consider for yourself or your children how you might spend time with them or reach out to them this week. Give thanks for their legacy, however great or small.
Thank you for the splendor of summer.
Today I will take a moment to savor it and relish in Your bounty.
Teach me how to cultivate more of You in my family.
I pray for wisdom on how I can be intentional with my efforts today and this week.
Show me where I need to nurture, prune, water, or wait.
Remind me that the harvest is coming and to trust in Your timing for it.
I will savor You and Your gifts today.