As First Fruits arrives, I am aware of how much ripening is taking place in nature. This is the season when I enjoy luscious tastings of apricots, nectarines, plums, and blueberries.
It feels wondrous that the sun’s warmth can be stored in such a juicy form. I feel I’m tasting nature’s generosity.
Polarities exist too
Yet it is also a time of scarcity. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, the cold still bites and growth is frozen. It is the time of First Light/Imbolc/Brigid, when the sun is returning, but not yet fully felt. You might like to click this link to read my blog post about First Light.
Even here in Aotearoa New Zealand, amidst all the abundance, scarcity is present.
In the picture above you may have noticed that one of the bowls is overflowing with bounty, while the other is empty. In Aotearoa, scarcity goes hand in hand with First Fruits, Lammas and Lugnasad. How is that so?
In Europe, between summer solstice and autumn equinox, the grain is ripe. From the first cutting, traditionally loaves of bread were brought into sacred space, to be blessed and tasted.
In Aotearoa, however, the kumara is still in the ground, as it needs a longer time to grow. And so Māori traditionally had to conserve what they had while waiting for the harvest. In Te Ao Māori, ‘Te Waru’ is the name for the eighth lunar month, a name that was linked with scarcity.
How do these contrasts affect our celebrations at First Fruits?
You may choose to celebrate abundance, or you may choose to include scarcity.
Here are two options for your celebration:
1. Create a celebration of abundance, enjoying the fullness of the first harvest and the generosity of the fruiting. Offer up thanks and gratitude for all that is ripening, outer and inner.
2. Create a celebration where, after giving thanks for what is fruiting and full in your life, you also turn your attention to the empty bowl or basket. You remember how for many, this is a time of hunger. You offer ‘bread’ (i.e. money) to the empty bowl or basket, with a pledge to send it to those in need.
For me, this is a good time to remember to make my donations.
A final thought
If you are celebrating in nature, you might also like to consider where the earth might need your help, and write a letter to the earth, with a promise or pledge. You can hide it at the base of a tree, under some bushes, or in the ground. If you are including children in your celebration, they will enjoy doing this.
For it is in giving that we receive.
— Saint Francis
For more about the season, go to my book Dancing with the Seasons. It was written to accompany you through the year. Now is a perfect time to begin this book, as it opens with the season of late summer/early autumn.