As I approach my 49th birthday in two days, I have woken up the the realisation that this will be the start of my fiftieth year! In the Jewish tradition this seven times seven year cycle of cycles was known as the Year of Jubilee. This was a periodic time when any parcel of land that had been bought and sold over the half century was restored to its original owners. No matter how long the current owner had owned it and what had been paid for it, it would be freely restored. Of course during the term of the fifty years, pieces of land would often change hands. Whenever a piece of land was sold on, its value would be based upon the number of remaining harvests calculated to be “in the land “until the next Jubilee.
What an interesting way to think about our lives! We are born with the potential of up to two sets of 50 harvests, some meagre, some abundant. These harvests are affected by circumstances and especially by one’s outlook and willingness to self- invest. I wonder if we were asked how many potential harvests there were “in us” we would know? What if we don’t know? Or don’t believe? What does that say about how much attention we are paying to the ground and the conditions we inhabit?
I have a sneaky feeling that there really is going to be a harvest that outstrips my expectations and brings a huge return on the last “owner” of this fifty years. In fact the last seven of these I took a sharp turn and experienced some ongoing pretty damning circumstances. At 42, I didn’t seem to be a very good investment to anyone. Yet with the desire to find a way where there didn’t seem to be one, great friends and fundamentally strong faith in the inevitability of change, time has been my friend.
These days we aren’t very good at waiting. And of course waiting in and of itself is not enough. A sense of having been given an allotted parcel of time and a potential maximum harvest to secure is a great motivator. Nevertheless there is a mysterious and spiritual principle engaged when we humbly appreciate that it is only all on loan and that as we “die empty”. In doing so we are not merely spent like the exhausted soil that has to lie fallow. When we die empty, we are actually returning something fully alive and fertile and full for the next Jubilee and its own stewards