Tuesday night marks the beginning of Shavuot, also known as Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks. Like all of the Biblical Feasts, it’s known by several names and has at least as many layers of meaning. On one level, we’re celebrating the giving of the Law (it is cause for celebration, trust me!) We’re also celebrating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the same holiday years later.
In the physical world, Shavuot is a harvest festival, and it coincides with the Barley harvest in Israel. The whole Biblical calendar is deeply connected to the land and climate in Israel. And the calendar is a picture of redemptive history as a whole. There’s always a spiritual harvest going on in tandem with the physical one.
It may be harvest time in Israel, but I’m living in Minnesota, where the snow is still melting from our especially long winter. I haven’t been able to plant anything yet, much less harvest. And speaking of harvest, why is is taking so long for so many of our prayers to be answered? We’re looking forward to a spiritual harvest, but the “ground” has yet to thaw. How can I celebrate circumstances that don’t match my reality at all?
Shavuot is an exercise in faith for me. Celebrating the harvest when the snow hasn’t melted yet is a little like celebrating the birthday of a child that has yet to be born. It’s like celebrating your anniversary when you’re still single. You can do it, but it takes faith and imagination.
But my family and I relish the chance to celebrate, irony and all. I’m looking forward to feasting together, singing together, reading the story of Ruth (which takes place during Shavuot) together, and maybe acting it out. I hope to spend at least part of the day gardening. There is a harvest coming, and I want to be part of it…
What about you? What area of your life is hard to celebrate right now? What promises can you celebrate today?