Through the eyes of a child.
I believe in winnowing! I was born on a farm in Croatia and watched the women in
their labors of gleaning and winnowing. The sheaves contained various weeds and the
chafe created big clouds of dust that made some women cough, others developed fevers.
The men had done the plowing and seeding in spring, sun and rain had prospered the crop
through the summer. Now the women saw to the purity of the grain and the baking of the
loaves that nourished our bodies.
I remember gleaning understanding from random words and lore that were strewn out
like chicken feed among the children to peck and forage. From this scattered seed we
constructed our notions of life and created our limited world view. I bound into a sheaf
the words in the psalms I heard in church, the songs of the women who lamented about
love and betrayal, life and death. Poems spoke of the grandeur of nature, gossip was petty
and superstitions and belief enjoyed the same reverence. Tensions abounded between rich
and poor, German and Slav. God was touted as an all powerful side-taker. Winnowing in
this environment became an act of self preservation.
When I first heard the story of Christ offering everlasting bread, I did not
understand its meaning, since the empirical evidence showed that bread disappeared into
our bellies as soon as it was sliced.
When I was five years old the winds of war had driven us from our land and we
became refugees in a strange country. There we were but day laborers working piecemeal
on someone else’s land and no longer involved in the process of creating our own bread.
With bellies empty, a new hunger arose. It was a hunger for acceptance and
community. In the process of winnowing I discovered words could be perverted, to feed a
hunger for power and destroy compassion.
Today, technology has freed us from toiling incessantly for bread, allotting time to
cultivate the mind. Yet, we are flooded with more information than the most fertile
ground can nourish and sustain. We are tempted to throw ourselves on the bounty like
gluttons and grab as much as we can, taking no time for winnowing.
We are surrounded by information like walls, cutting us off from the communal
experience. Eating the grain others have winnowed can leave us empty.
After years of winnowing to find the golden grain and embed it into my
Consciousness, thinking it would give purpose and meaning to my life, I remember
childhood. It brings me home to a place when the joy lay in the process and the partaking;
when my child’s heart had no need of purpose. Winnowing was a task shared that united
the community. A fragrant loaf symbolized communion with God, nature and neighbor.
Winnowing to me means finding your identity through participating in group.
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