As I work to process about 1,440 ears of corn (half of which we have been cutting the kernels from and blanching), this morning’s reading about Ruth seemed appropriate.
She is known for gleaning leftover grain from the field of her future husband, Boaz. We have in common this agricultural connection.
For me, like Ruth, working with the produce of the land, has been a part of life for a long time. Not only do we get a lot of produce donated here at St. Anne’s which we have to process, but I was introduced to “corn-cutting parties” when I growing up.
We spent a lot of time on our friends’ farm during my childhood and adolescence. So, while I grew up “in town,” I still had a lot of farm experience as well.
I remember one occasion when we had the kitchen table heaped high with corn which we cut off the cobs for my mom to blanch. The kettles were then set in the bathtub to cool before the corn was put into bags and frozen.
Although I still ended up calling her to ask advice for blanching this year’s corn donation, this earlier experience provided a good background for me.
It is different actually running the operation yourself. Now I am the one doing the blanching while others helped with the cutting. We have eight bags now in the freezer. This afternoon, when I get off work at the reception desk, I will work to blanch that which I was unable to finish yesterday.
It is nice that we have modern conveniences available which had not yet been invented at the time of Ruth. An electric stove and freezers certainly make life easier! A less sophisticated invention that I really appreciate in the large colander which I am borrowing from our main kitchen. I works beautifully to be able to pour the contents from my hot corn kettle into it, preserving the water below and keeping the corn on top.
I remember what fun I used to have doing dishes when the time came to wash the colander, putting it through the water and creating a fountain with water coming through its holes. This also had a way of revitalizing my soap suds if they had diminished. (I wonder if they had any similar device in biblical times on the plain of Moab or near Bethlehem.)
In chapel this morning, as I moved from reflection on Ruth to the Gospel reading, I also felt a connection with the latter scripture passage. Jesus reminded us of the command to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor.
When I am busy processing all this corn, I remind myself of the reason for doing it. It is to be an act of love for God and neighbor. It truly does occupy all the effort and attentiveness I can muster.
The psalm, too, ties in. The exhortation to “praise the Lord, my soul” is appropriate in thanksgiving for those who shared their bounty. I am also grateful to all those who are working together in this project, husking, “de-hairing,” and cutting the corn before it makes it into our kettles.
Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF
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