Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Dear God: On Becoming a Harvester


Dear God,

In today’s reading (Matthew 9:36–1:8), Jesus talks about harvesters:

Jesus said to his disciples: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

I’m always intrigued by what you have to say about harvesters, God, because my name, “Theresa,” means “harvester.” And I’ve never totally understood what it means to be a harvester. Because I’m scared my allergies will get the best of me if I go out to the fields in October, and pick all kinds of apples and corn.


Maybe I’m afraid to be a harvester because it’s easier to lug around empty baskets–begging other people for a pear or banana every now and then–than it is to go out and pick the fruit, wash it, cook it, and set the table. Maybe even share it with others! With a plentiful supply of food, you risk having friends and family (and of course strangers) steal from you. You take on all the complexities that come with being a “harvester.”

Maybe it’s the burdensome responsibilities that come with the job of being a harvester that has me wishing that my name meant something else, like “borrower.” Now that would be easy. No heavy baskets to hull back to the fort. No expectations from anyone–you know, as long you return whatever it was that you were borrowing.


I think that in order to be a satisfied, content harvester, a person must to be comfortable with happiness. And I’m realizing that as much as I crave happiness, I’m scared of it.

“You’ve found another self-help book,” you, God, are saying right now. Yes, I have. I stay away from that aisle in the bookstore, I swear. But the guardian angel that you hooked me up with sends them … signed by the author. And so, I start reading … and the thought process begins, as I stare, once again, at my navel.

This one is good. It’s called “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment” by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., who teaches the most popular course at Harvard, with more than 850 students.


His fourth meditation, toward the back of the book, is about “letting our light shine.”

“Why would anyone actively deprive himself of happiness?” Ben-Shahar asks. And then he quotes this passage from Marianne Williamson’s bestselling book, “A Return to Love”:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

That, I think, is what it means to be a harvester: to be comfortable with your light. So cozy that you automatically and effortlessly share it with others.


A friend of mine for Christmas one year gave me an original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours, 16 lines of ruled text, ruled in red, written in Latin with dark brown ink in gothic script on animal vellum. Two lines begin the Magnificat … 

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the humility of His handmaiden. For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His Name. 

With the beautiful page, my friend wrote that it reminded him of me … because I don’t hide my light, and I project the joy of Mary.


It was one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever received. And I keep it right next to my computer because it reminds me what it means to be a harvester.

Admittedly, I spend most of my time doubting the gifts that you, God, have given me, and wondering if everything I say and do is self-absorbed. Because somewhere along the way, I got the memo that writing and speaking (and singing) about yourself–even if it’s meant to inspire and help others–is self-serving.

I so often fall into the trap of thinking that mental illness is a disease for the rich folks who don’t have “real” problems: poverty, dirty water, corrupt governments. And I ask myself, just as Marianne Williamson so intuitively pointed out, “Who am I to try to share the light of God? Who am I to share my gifts? Who am I to try to be happy?”


And so I retreat and head back to the dark spots, where I’m used to hanging out. But the baskets of apples I picked in the field can thrive there. So I have to make a choice: do I head for the light? Where I’m most vulnerable? Where people can steal from me, and call me “self-absorbed” and other bad names? Do I strive for happiness? Or do I pull the comforter over in me in my dark bedroom–and throw away the baskets of goodies that I don’t deserve because no one should be happy in this life?

Do I become a harvester? Or do I stay a borrower?

Help me make the right choice.

Just for today.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

  • R.

    How can you say, or think, you are not a harvester? My dear Therese, you are daily harvesting the good out of the dark night of the soul you are so often trapped in. You are harvesting the truths of happiness, of living fully, of fighting for what you want, for what you believe in.
    As I have said before, your readers are so grateful for this blog and its fruits.
    Blessings and peace, and with gratitude.

  • teensmom

    Your apples of wisdom are enjoyed everyday by me and the readers of this blog. I will share my light with those I encounter and gather the joy from the small things around me today and everyday. I will express my gratitude to those who share with me and reflect the light back to me in their eyes and smiles. :)
    Deb S

  • Bobby Sagra

    It is a great letter to God from your heart Theresa – the Harvester…Yes, it is true in life, there is time for sowing and there is time for reaping. At times I harvest what I did not sow, but the joy there is in harvesting is far greater if I have been the one who made the sowing. With your letter I understand harvesting in a much greater way, that of basking in the light, of proclaiming to the whole world my true dignity and beauty as a person and a child of God, of being attuned to what is wonderful and good in life! I thank you for the courage to be and for the love to share your deepest thoughts with us here. May you find the joy you see in your daily walk of faith!

  • Larry Parker

    The angle you take is a little Oprah-like, don’t you think, Therese?
    On the other hand, if you had spoken of yourself as a Simon Peter, a fisher of men (and women), I would have said amen to that.

  • Lawrence C Anderson

    You are a wonderful person And I hope you stay out of your depression and are always given the insight to know when when to seek help before some thing terrible happens. I clicked onto your story to tell my story and started reading your story. It gave me more courage to tell my story. In 1995 my father past away a few months later I found my mother nonresponsive she had tried to commit sucide(insulin overdose) a note that she wrote said she didn’t want to be a burden to anyone, the paramedics told my sister and me 10 minutes longer and they wouldn’t be able to revive her. She lived another happy two and a half years. My sister God bless her moved her to her house gave her the job of watching over her four younger children while she was in school/working.I got married in 1998 a month later she past away natural causes a massive stroke.That note always comes up in the back of my mind did she think she was a burden or did I somehow make her feel like a burden.I don’t know if that is when my depression started or if was earlier.I feel things are not getting better.On June 30th 2006 my wife came home with a headache which turned out to be three brain tumors.She had been fighting breast cancer for two years on august 8th she pasted away the cancer was all through her body. I don’t no if this matter then the family pet died of a brain tumor also.That was last year this year I lost my job for failure to come to work all my family medical leave ran out.I was sick last year with lymphademia and complications which enabled me to spend the last 22 days of my wifes life at her bedside.This also weights heavy on me because I am the one that had to sign the paper to have life support removed (the doctors said there was nothing more that could be done) she only took three more breaths and was gone.I prayed many times for God to let me take her place those 22 days.Ok back to this year well it started last year after the funeral.I went back to work and was having severe pain in my legs so my family doctor ordered tests one leg nerve damage other abnormal.Then pain middle back sent to a pain specialist MRI degenerative disc decease.Next started having double vision sent to a neurologist another MRI spots on the brain.Didn’t what they were after two months went to another neurologist Secondary progressive MS still in alot of pain another MRI spinalchord flatten in my neck.Afer getting four opinions that agree I am waiting for the sergeon to schedule me for surgery.I have considered just giving up a lot I even got a motel room so there wouldn’t be anyone to find me in time.I chickened out.Oh both my step children who are adults now are in trouble with the law an I don’t have the funds to help unless I don’t take care of myself.

  • marie jean armone

    thank you! i needed to read this just now. g

  • hMBrSOT


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