Sunday, March 13, 2011

Meaning of gleaning

I don't usually talk about religion on this blog, although it's a part of my life. But a couple of Sundays ago, we heard a reading that only comes up in the cycle when Easter's really late, like it is this year. It's from Leviticus 19, and it's the only time we hear Leviticus read in the Episcopal church. But it has a lot to do with food, and my friend and fellow communicator Phina had these thoughts on verses 9 and 10:

What struck me on first reading these again was that the poor were actually allowed onto the fields to glean; the leftovers were not managed by the landowners and distributed according to the landowner's policies, but the gleaners came onto the land, and their labor yielded their gleanings. Somehow, this seems more dignified and just than the ways we in our place and time usually manage our charitable activity. Perhaps it shows more trust, and more of a relationship, between the poor and the rich than we experience.

You can read her blog entry HERE. Phina writes a lot about sustainable food practices and our relationship to food and the land. You can read her blog, Just Gleanings, by clicking on the link to it further down the right side of this page.

A bit about the painting above. Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875) was a French painter noted for his scenes of peasant farmers. Millet's "The Gleaners" (1857) depicts three peasant women gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest. The painting is famous for monumentalizing what were then the lowest ranks of rural society. The earthy figures blend into the colour of the piece, ingraining them well into the scene. The original is in the Musee d'Orsay - Paris.

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