Cast your Bread. It’s vital you do

Cast your bread. You can hold it to yourself, that special thing about you, but it is better for everyone if you ‘Cast your bread.’  Focus on the micro gifts of today.

Even in winter, the children still ask if there are strawberries to pick.

I manage a large vegetable garden at a primary school here in Auckland, and it always amuses me when the children ask me if there are any strawberries. They don’t yet fully understand the concept of seasons and having to wait.

That there is a time to sow and a time reap.

I enjoy harvest time. It’s so good to be picking fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the garden. One of the delights at the school is to pick some fresh ripe tomatoes and then slice a section and give it to a young child.

The taste is so much better than store-bought. Maybe because it’s been grown in soil, without vast amounts of chemical fertilizers and sprays, but also perhaps that the children are involved in the planting and the picking.

Modern Immediacy

Today it’s a world of immediacy. With the quickness of internet speed, we expect to get what we want when we want it.

We go to our supermarket shelves in the middle of winter and can find summer fruits and vegetables.

Perhaps we have lost some sense of waiting with patient expectancy.

Rhythm is built into creation, and the problem with the modern world is that you can get tomatoes at 2 am Rob Bell

Cast your bread

There is a strange little verse in the Bible that genuinely makes you scratch your head.

Cast your bread upon the waters,
    for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1

I see myself with a loaf of bread, throwing it into a river and then it coming back to me after a few days as a soggy mess. Now that is weird!

So we need to go back to what the first readers would have heard—their interpretation of this cryptic passage.

Cast – to cast something was to spread it out. Typically in those times, it referred to seed.  A farmer would go and ‘cast’ his seed out into the fields. In these modern days, we have machines that are very precise and will drill or sow the seed to precisely the right depth and placement for optimum germination. In the days of old, it was random, rough, and ready.

Bread – another reference to seed. Bread comes from milled grain. The grain is the seed. Every year at harvest time, a portion of the crop was set aside to be sown at a later date. When the season came for sowing, there better be enough seed. So, in essence, you were sowing your bread.

Waters – You don’t sow seed into water, but you do sow it when you know that the soil will become wet with rain. In Israel, the early rains come in October / November to loosen up the sun-baked dirt. A farmer would go out and cultivate the soil ready for ‘water’ to fill furrows. The seed would then be cast into the ‘waters’ and germinate.

Find it after many days – that little seed, sown in faith, would grow and develop and create seed itself. This would take ‘many days.’ There was not an exact date when the harvest would take place, but more a season.

So many factors come into play as to how well that cereal plant would grow. Many unseen and unknown factors express themselves on that growing plant. There is a mystery, and much of its growth is beyond our control. 

The joy of harvest 

Harvest is a beautiful time. It is that moment where you know the fruit of your labor. You taste it and enjoy its freshness. You want to be forever living in that emotional happiness of reward and satisfaction.

That buzz or thrill can become addictive.

I want it all, I want it now, and I don’t want to have to do the work to get it. We want the delight of intimacy, but we don’t want to do the risky work of relationship building. Please relieve my emotional pain relief, but without the hard work of discovering what’s under the pain.

For most of our days, we are cultivating, sowing seed, and waiting. We trust, and we hope. Confidence grows year upon year, harvest season upon harvest season.

Snake Oil salesman

I think there are many ‘Snake Oil salesmen’ in our world. They offer a quick fix, a panacea to our problems.

In 2019 the most popular searched item on Google was ‘Disney Plus.’

We want our diversions, our harvest of buzz emotions. We want to be told ‘nice things,’ things that will make us ‘feel better.’

“They tell their preachers,
    “Don’t waste our time on impracticalities.
Tell us what makes us feel better.
    Don’t bore us with obsolete religion.
That stuff means nothing to us.
    Quit hounding us with The Holy of Israel.” Isaiah 30:8-11

We want the harvest without the sweat of cultivation and the casting of our essence to the unknown. Sowing to something beyond our control. To faith, hope, and love.

The joy of the cast 

What if we were to take a joyful approach to the daily grind of a little movement each day.

Cast your Bread. It's vital you do

I enjoy sowing seeds. I get my little packet of seed, open up the tinfoil wrapper and sprinkle the seed on to some seedling mix compost, cover them and water and wait.

The seed, in a sense, dies to its former structure. In that small dry husky shell, some water reaches in and begins the magic. Cells divide and multiply, and before long, a root comes out. Then bursting through the soil a shoot emerges

There is already a harvest of growth and change. It’s exciting. Given a few more ‘many days’ and I will be picking tomatoes and slicing cucumbers for children dulled by supermarket immediacy. 

I also sow seeds every week via this blog. I cast them wide and far. Some touch down on good soil and reap a harvest multiple times over. Some seed lands on stones and paths and rocky places. Parable of the Sower

The important thing is to keep on sowing because there is a joy in the seed landing and taking root in people’s lives.

Where are you throwing your life away

Those early subsistence farmers had a choice. Do I eat the seed or not? How much I do keep for myself and my family, and how much do I set aside for sowing?

The same question is ours.

How much of the good are you holding in yourself? Keeping it in and not sharing what you have been given.

That giftedness you have. That unique quality or skill or knowledge you alone seem to have.

My mother made beautiful knitted garments. Many hours she could be seen knitting exquisite baby clothes. Her great-grandbabies wear them now, and maybe even their great-grandbabies will wear them too!

Now that is what I call a harvest from casting to the waters.

What would you most like to harvest in your life? Is it joy, peace, happiness, contentment? Focus on the ‘cast’ of the moment. In ‘many days,’ and maybe even not in your lifetime, there will be a harvest.

Mental Health is ... celebrating this present moment of the microscopic 'cast your bread upon the waters' knowing that there will be a harvest in the future. Click To Tweet

Quotes to consider

  • I’ve got this thing in my heart
    I must give you today
    It only lives when you
    Give it away
    Bruce Cockburn – Give it away
  • Happiness is found in being free—free from our attachment to circumstances and possessions, and free from our compulsion to gratify our need for power, affection, and security. Liberation is found in the little deaths we surrender to every day. Phileena Heuertz
  • You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan
  • For it is in giving that we receive. St. Francis of Assisi

Questions to answer

  1. What little micro ‘cast’ can you make today?
  2. Has a ‘Snake Oil Salesmen’  sold you lie? If so, what is it?
  3. What would you like to most harvest in your life?

Further reading

How ‘Going the extra Mile’ Flips the Power Dynamics

Life’s not Fair! There is a Mystery to be Known

God is Pruning Me for Love, Joy, and Peace

Barry Pearman

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash