We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land. The opening line of a harvest hymn quoted at the beginning of January? Traditionally, Plough Monday is the first Monday after Epiphany and the start of the farming year. It was often marked with a plough in the church and prayers for the forthcoming agricultural year. Some churches still have a Plough Sunday service. Do you ever pray for farmers? If you’re a city dweller it may be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. If you live in the countryside you may be more aware of what goes on in the fields surrounding you.

Some of our idioms have been borrowed from farming lingo. We talk about someone having a ‘furrowed brow’ – lines showing dismay or perplexity – resembling the furrows of a ploughed field. Have you ‘put your hands to the plough’ yet this year, meaning have you begun to undertake a task?

Uncontrollable conditions – such as weather – aside, a good harvest or good outcome of any task begins with careful preparation. The blades of the plough are cleaned and sharpened, the tractor well-maintained. The unseen jobs of winter pave the way for future productivity.

We’re not all farmers. Whatever our role is, and a new year is always a good time to take stock and re-evaluate our purpose, we can put our hands to the plough, be prepared to plough through mud – even getting bogged down at times, rejoice on sunny days, and work at whatever tasks with which we’ve been gifted. Happy ploughing!

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