Flashes – The Law of the Harvest

Exclamation MarkConsider a well-known truth that never appears to be fully understood, does a man sow thistles and reap strawberries?  Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” lists this as the fifth semaphore, and of the six semaphores, this one is probably my favorite to discuss.  Not because I am sowing rocks and reaping corn and beans, but because I often sow rancid vegetables and reap garbage, then wonder why I cannot improve my harvest.  As the writings on flash four stated, “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” I am a slow learned and generally only really grasp things after experiencing some consequences that would kill others.  As we discuss the Law of the Harvest, please note I am not here to convince or convert, merely to help myself.  If you find value in this topic, join me, teach me, that we may both then learn more perfectly.

The law of the harvest is straightforward; many farmers know this law cold, “You reap what you sow.”  If you sow lima beans, you do not raise grapes.  If you are sowing carrots, you cannot harvest apples.  No matter how many times you plant them, Cheerios do not sprout a doughnut tree; I know as I planted a LOT of Cheerios.  Bubble gum, when planted, never grows into a bubble gum tree; my mother lied!

Yet, with this mindset, many people, myself included, become depressed, disconnected from reality, and mentally unstable.  Thinking, oh, I can sow gossip and truth, and equity and justice will be shown to me.  I can tell lies, cheat, steal, then become rich, famous, and never have any negative consequences.  I can take and plant some cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, etc., in my body and remain healthy, strong, active, and never suffer mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  The law of the harvest doesn’t work like this, yet, this remains the greatest living lie.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

From the eternal semaphore comes the following:

Be NOT Deceived!  [emphasis mine]”

Now, consider how many people drink alcohol and expect not to suffer a hangover.  Consider the people consuming vast amounts of sugar, in all its various forms, who think they will never suffer diabetes, become overweight, or suffer any consequences from all that sugar.  My aunt is a great woman, fantastic artist, amazingly kind and generous person, and a chocoholic.  She never thought about the consequences of consuming chocolate because the research shows chocolate is healthy; she never could overcome the mental illness she suffered from that the chocolate was a comforting influence.  Her family mourns her passing!

The law of the harvest is a stern warning and an incredible promise.

He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

The pattern is evident for those struggling who sow goodness, kindness, and happiness.  Hold on; your harvest WILL come, and it will be glorious.  In the same breath, those sowing hate, envy, strife, malice, greed, and so much more, your harvest is also coming, and I feel awful for what your harvest will be.  For the law of the harvest comes with a profound sentiment:

God will not be mocked.”Frederick William Robertson Quote: "You reap what you sow - not something else, but that. An act ...

I promise, there is a God, an atonement IS available through His Son, and the Holy Ghost is real and powerful.  The enclosed sentiment in the Law of the Harvest remains my comfort when harvesting the bitter fruits my heart grows.  Yes, many times, I quake for the thought that I desperately need to find a way to raise a better crop on the stony ground of my heart.  Long have I prayed for a change of heart, for a line from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” rings forever in my mind:

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground.  A man grows what he can, and he tends it.  ‘Cause, what you buy is what you own.  And what you own… always comes home to you.”

If you get nothing more out of this flash than the need to change fertilizers and seeds, all with an eye to improving your harvest, I have accomplished my goal.  Confucius is quoted as saying, “Our headstrong passions shut the doors of our souls against God.”  What great counsel, our passions are the seeds, the consequences are the fruit, and the law of the harvest governs whether we will have a harvest to enjoy or curse, and we choose how to value that harvest.

Bear with me a moment; I might have lost a few of you.  Let me explain.  As a kid, we often had gardens, and I was regularly on the working end of a hoe killing weeds.  I cursed those weeds; I despised every second I wielded that hoe in the garden.  My cherub-like demeanor was nowhere to be found working those garden rows!  Then came the endless days of harvesting, canning, storing, and eating that which could not be stored; I still was NOT a happy person.  Ever eat zucchini for weeks on end because that horrible stuff reproduces like rabbits in perpetual heat whose water is full of Viagra?You reap what you sow. #bible #liveBigly #life #affiliate #quote #inspiration #message #world # ...

That is the point; when the harvest comes, and a harvest always comes, we choose how we value that which is being harvested.  My father tried hard to teach me this lesson, but all I ever saw were the endless hours sweating in a kitchen preparing jars for canning, the blisters from hoeing the weeds, and the time spent doing that which we would eventually purchase in cans as winter dragged on and on.  I could not see any value in gardening, so the blessings of the harvest were lost on me.  Headstrong passions blinded my eyes to the blessings of the harvest, and I cursed the day I was conceived.  Confucius is correct, and I have witnessed the problems with headstrong passions interfering with the Law of the Harvest many times since.

I am also experiencing the truth from Cicero:

A youth of sensuality and intemperance delivers over to old age a worn-out body.”

I would add, an intemperate youth also yields a worn-out mind!  Having observed this as a youth, I thought I could escape the problems of being intemperate, and I can honestly proclaim, I was wrong!  Since my youth, I lifted objects heavier than practical; I gloried in the strength of my body and pushed it to the absolute limit many times.  What am I reaping; I was disabled by the time I was 30.  I am now older but not wiser.  I still want to push my boundaries without regard for consequences and wind up on the floor, in hospital, or mentally unable to think properly for weeks on end.  As a kid, when my parents were told of one of their kids being punished (a not infrequent occurrence), they regularly said, “Well, he brought that on himself.”  To quote Ray Stevens, “Yeah, I Did!”  I did bring on myself the harvest of intemperance and am delivering a worn-out body and mind to old-age.  There are lots of seeds we plant and many different types of harvests we reap.  When valuing the harvest, choose wisely how you evaluate the crop.#everything #you #do #say #choice #soon #later #quote #lessons #learned #life | Lessons learned ...

Pliny, more famously known as Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny, the Elder,” was a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, and naval and army commander.  He is quoted as saying:

Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, [a] canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and finally a mortal bane to all of the body.”

Lust is regularly only thought of as an intense sexual desire.  This type of lust definitely fits what Pliny is warning about; however, lust is also an overwhelming craving, unassailable desire, and intense eagerness or enthusiasm.  Yet, many might not fully grasp the semaphore Pliny is flashing; Henry Wordsworth Longfellow might be easier to understand:

The blossoms of passion, gay and luxuriant flowers, are bright and full of fragrance, but they beguile us and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.”

Henry Giles and John Howe are both flashing the same message, trying to capture our attention and teach the same lesson:

The passions are at once tempters and chastisers.  As tempters, they come with garlands of flowers on brows of youth; as chastisers, they appear with wreaths of snakes on the forehead of deformity.  They are angels of light in their delusions; they are fiends of torment in their afflictions.”

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

What do you regret from your youth as the first tastes of passion’s deadly fruits?  Let me speak plainer; of course, you remember your first time in love, the rush of passions start, and the heartbreak of closure.  Do you see the seeds of passion and the harvested fruits as beneficial or deadly?  I know my answers to this question and understand more fully why modesty, chastity, and virtue are to be honored, respected, and cherished.  You choose how you evaluate your experiences.You reap what you sow | Everyday quotes, Peace quotes, One word inspiration

I currently work with a person who curses their ex-wife in the vilest language imaginable, yet, they praise their child in the same breath and bless the day they came into their life.  What seeds are being planted in the child, the co-workers, and society?  Will the bitter fruit be understood and evaluated as good?  Time will tell.  Byron summed this semaphore perfectly:

Vice digs her own voluptuous tomb.”

Of all the advice given, I wish I had observed the following more perfectly, and while I do not know the author, many have semaphored the following message in one form or another:

Shun the obscene!”

A long time back, exactly when escaped me, I watched a comedian who told some off-color stories for the audience’s amusement.  Those seeds bore some of the most pernicious weeds in my mind, choking out life and pleasure, goodness, and all things clean and kind.  Killing those weeds is a constant exercise, some would classify as futile.  But, I have chosen differently and fought those weeds desiring something better, and the fight continues.  I do not find swearing, debauchery, lewdness, immorality, perversion, and such amusing anymore.  When I came to myself, I cleaned out a LOT of entertainment, removing books, magazines, music, movies, and more in an effort to cling to the good and shun the obscene.  I had to re-learn lessons from childhood.

Now I look back on those mistakes, those seeds planted carelessly, and the bitter and thorny weeds I now fight and wish I could help others understand the same lesson I learned.  Not shunning the obscene leads to problems immeasurable.  In the US Navy, I had a good acquaintance who went to a party, was slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped by another female.  I counseled my friend to report this event and get tested.  My friend declined because she “did not know if she liked it or not.”  I mourned my friend that day and many days after as she experienced what happened after not shunning the obscene.  Before she revealed her true self, her rapist was a person I respected and who was removed from military service for other actions.  But the crime of rape went unreported, a sad commentary indeed!  John Howe was absolutely correct:

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

Quotes You Reap What You SowMy friend’s experience in the US Navy always brings a poem to mind courtesy of Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
as to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace
.”

The truth of the matter remains permanently etched upon our souls or consciousness, “You reap what you sow.”  We inherently know this truth, and then become sidetracked by temptation, which comes in the forms of misery, depression, beauty, emotions, and more; wrapped in shiny foil, the fruit inside is always bitter, but the first bite is a temptation that over time becomes that which we would have died to avoid.  Robert Southey, the English poet, semaphored this message thusly:

They who engage in iniquitous designs deceive themselves into thinking that they will go so far and no farther.  One fault begets another; one crime makes another necessary.  Thus downward they go into the depths of guilt, which at the commencement of their career they would have died rather than incurred.”

QuestionCan you relate to your experiences with planting and harvesting?  What are you teaching and semaphoring?  Dr. Johnson adds a comment worth remembering: “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  While Dr. Johnson is correct, there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there are chain cutters available through repentance and a path back.  There is a reason to hope!  Not speaking religiously, nor am I here to convert anyone to any religious flavor, merely to alert those needing it that there is a way to clean your mind and heart, that your future may produce a better harvest.  Even if you might have to harvest garbage for a while as the ground cleans itself of the impurities dumped into it.  Mr. Muir quotes Simons, a reference unknown, regarding the path:

Impure thoughts awaken impure feelings, lead to impure expressions, and beget impure actions, and these lead to imbecility both of body and of mind, and to the ruin of all that is noble and pure in character.”

We who have survived youthful transgressions understand this path perfectly.  Note, we live in an age of severe iconoclasm, where every day, we are bombarded by attacks on established beliefs by institutions built for the sole purpose of tearing down others.  Who cannot replace their depravity and destruction with anything wholesome, good, pure, or worthwhile.  Where beliefs of religion, societal norms, and institutions representing the living and breathing were destroyed for the wanton pleasure of the iconoclasts.  The age of the iconoclasts began with the 1960s, and nothing built since is worth the pain and suffering we are experiencing now.  Worse, those iconoclasts from the 1960s are now teachers and professors, elected leaders, and their legacy of destruction stares them in the face while they laugh and take pleasure at your suffering.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

With each successive generation of iconoclastic behavior, the succeeding generations are a factor of 10 worse than their parents.  Think of how many generations have come and multiplied this abhorrent behavior into society.  Is it any wonder as a society we are in the mess we are in, where criminals get off, the victims are repeatedly punished, good is heralded as evil and evil for good.  But, I promise there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there is a path forward that leads back to life, growth, happiness, goodness, and a morally upright society.  Shunning the obscene is the first step!

Knowledge Check!We must be the generation that begins the repair job from the iconoclast’s destruction.  The ravages inflicted upon us will require re-learning, embracing hope, building faith, and acting charitably through faith and hope to act charitably first to ourselves, then to our families and friends, and then to the broader societies we all live in.  Whether you embrace a religious community or not, the imperative to “Shun the obscene:” the need to sow better crops to reap a more desirable harvest valued by others is universal.  Not to create fervor and fanaticism, but to create a people dedicated to improving ourselves and after improving ourselves to improve the world around us.

May we all enjoy a better harvest is my hope!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – How is your quest for JOY coming?

Bobblehead DollLong before I read Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” I knew I wanted to find joy.  But, I was stuck; what is joy and how do I identify joy were my first two obstacles.  Yet, from many sources comes the following, in many different forms:

Man is that he might find joy.”

What is Joy?

An appeal to the dictionary confuses joy and happiness, forming part of the problem where understanding joy is concerned.  The closest definition for joy coming from the dictionary is to define joy as an ecstatic feeling, pleasure, or deep satisfaction.  But, if a person goes around chasing a euphoric feeling, they will be disappointed in pursuing joy.  If we consider joy as not an emotion but the result of an unexpected event that creates feelings of peace and contentment, then joy is more fully understood, but the quest for joy becomes more challenging to pursue.  How does one pursue an unexpected gift?

Christians, and some Jews, share a description of joy as a “good feeling in the soul, produced by a visit from the Holy Ghost (Spirit); thus, joy is felt as a consequence of a visit from another being.  However, unless you pursue education into those religions, you still might not fully grasp what joy is and why we seek joy so ardently.  One of the most straightforward descriptions for joy comes from the writings of Pope, an English author from the 16th century who wrote:

Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, lie in the three words –health, peace, and competence.”

Hence the pursuit of joy is gaining health, peace, and competence.  So we can conclude that joy is found in possessing health, peace, and competence, as a consequence or good feeling stemming from achieving these three items.  Now, I know someone will get bent out of shape here; what if I have poor health, how can I pursue joy?  The answer lies in understanding peace and competence as co-equal parts of health.50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Recently on YouTube, I watched an amputee discuss their amputation, health, peace, and display their competence.  One could argue that losing a foot is poor health, yet this person glows with good health for having joined health to peace and competence.  By the same token, I know several people who possess poor health, are depressed from not finding peace, and are not competent.  While working with mental health patients, I met a person in a wheelchair who cannot walk, can barely speak, and this person chooses to live on the street in misery.  This person has plenty of money for an apartment but chooses to live on the street eating from garbage cans in abject misery.  Thus, we can see the need for combining health, peace, and competence to obtain joy.  One might even define joy as a consequence of choices that build a life.  However, and this is critical, the feelings of joy are internal!

Imperative to understanding joy as a consequence is the need to grasp that joy is an internal feeling of ecstasy, delight, and wonder while dependent upon health, peace, and competence.  We cannot understate this importance nor overstate the criticality of joy to the combination of health, peace, and competence.  I have met very depressed people who possess competence but cannot find joy.  I have met people with great health and who are miserable.  Possessing one or two of these components does not disqualify you from obtaining joy or pursuing joy, but lacking all three will not produce joy in any quantity or with any staying power.  Joy is not an event in life but a collection of events from life, where “everything just clicked.”50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Finally, it must be expressly noted joy is not an emotion; thus, joy cannot be chosen from a list of emotions to fit circumstances.  Since joy is not an emotion, this is where happy and joy are most often confused.  If an external event occurs, and health, peace, and competence are not present, happiness, not joy, is being felt or experienced.  If health, peace, and competence are present, and the feeling of joy swells inside, independent of all other factors, then joy is being experienced.

Case in point, in the US Navy, I served in a toxic working environment as a highly competent sailor.  I possessed health and, through inner strength, enjoyed peace inside myself.  Frequently, I would experience joy, even though external elements and environments appeared expressly designed to “make me miserable.”  By choosing to disallow an external event to choose my emotions, peace was mine, and joy was a consequence.Joy Quotes 3 | QuoteReel

Another English author from the 16th century was Edward Young, who concluded the following:

On the soft bed of luxury, most kingdoms have expired.”

What is happiness?

The definition of happiness is as convoluted as the definition of joy.  Consider the following: “Any state of being, having considerable permanence, in which pleasure predominates over pain.”  Yeah, that’s going to help a person understand!  Sarcasm aside, the definitions of happiness also include some interesting aspects for consideration: fortuitous aptness or fitness, grace, beauty, and felicitousness.  Happiness is also the quality or state of being happy, as if that actually helps.

Happy, the root word of happiness, is defined as cheerful, willing, possessing good luck or fortunate, a marked pleasure satisfaction, or showing the same.  What the dictionary skips, and the elements needed for understanding happy and happiness, is that being happy relies upon external factors and is a choice.  We choose to emote happy or happiness based upon external forces, societies, people, events, and environments.Spread Happiness Quotes. QuotesGram

Steven Aitchison is quoted as saying, “Happiness begins with the decision to no longer feel sad.”  Is it clear that happiness, like all emotions, is a choice?  The importance of choosing our emotions cannot be understated, and many of life’s biggest problems would disappear if we chose better emotional responses to external stimuli.  Aristotle provides the final word on happiness:

True happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best possible self.  Otherwise, all you’re having is immediate gratification pleasure, which is fleeting and doesn’t grow you as a person.”

What is the difference between Joy and Happiness?

Of a truth for certain, confusing Joy and Happiness leads to despair, misery, and failure.  Please keep the following clearly in mind; happiness is external.  Happiness is based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts.  Happiness is connected to your hope.  Believe it or not, the following observation is not religious thinking, faith builds hope, hope builds charity, and charity is nothing but an outward action of an inner commitment (faith).  Happiness is faith and hope expressed for everyone to see.  Put the words in any order and use a thesaurus.  The result never varies; happiness is a consequence (resulting from) of faith and hope combined into action, and others might call that action charity.Quotes about happiness

If further questions arise about distinguishing between joy and happiness, please review the above definitions where I have attempted to clarify the delineation.  One essential factor in pursuing peace is time to reflect, which promotes peace and distills into competence.  Competence breeds from education (formal and informal) applied over time and understood through reflection.  Peace is stability, mental calm and derives from reflection and additional education (formal and informal).  Health can be physical, mental, and spiritual, but of these three, mental and spiritual are more important than physical health.  Again, when combined, independent of all external forces and environments, joy is the consequence, not happiness!

Please allow me to point out something truly obvious when a person wishes you joy, they generally also include happiness as an addition to their blessing.  For example, the Whitney Houston song whose lyrics claim:

I wish to you joy and happiness.  But above all this, I wish you love.”

Thus confirming that joy and happiness are two distinct and separate entities.  The US Constitution allows and encourages a person to pursue “Life, liberty, and happiness” as inalienable rights.”  Joy is not included!  Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:

The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself.”

The Quest for Joy

The quest for joy begins with education (formal and informal) as a building block for competence and to begin the process of finding peace.  While influenced by external factors (drugs, alcohol, disease, viruses, bacteria, etc.), health requires mental and spiritual inputs and is not content without peace.  Choosing to accept physical limitations is part of building mental and spiritual peace, and the human body cannot long survive without mental and spiritual health and peace, but the body can long endure physical health problems if mental and spiritual health remains.Meme Quotes » Happiness

Another truth becomes evident when questing for joy, “Joy dwells in the ordinary.”  Consider this for a moment; a person gives another person a flower.  Ordinary, simplistic, and yet this giving provides joy to the giver and receiver.  How swift and fleeting is the happiness of Christmas, where the gifts are generally more extravagant, costly, and luxurious, but a simple flower can spark a world of memories.

Why bees & biodiversity benefit from indigenous wildflowersMy granddaughter, a toddler at the time, and I took a walk.  She found a wildflower in the midst of thousands of other flowers on this walk which was important to her.  Upon our walk concluding, we pressed that flower into a book.  The time spent with her remains a cherished memory for me, and when I see wildflowers, the memories of this walk and flower pressing come back readily.  Truly, joy is found in the ordinary!

Elbert Hubbard reminds us that:

Ozone and friendship will be our stimulants – let the drugs, tobacco, and strong drink go forever.  Natural joy brings no headaches and no heartaches.”

Why; because natural joy combines health, peace, and competence into a powerful force.  No further stimulation is needed or wanted.  Bulwer Lytton provides the best flashing sign for contemplation:

We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of the moments.”

What will you sacrifice in the quest for joy, the peace of years, or the rapture of moments?  One of the most miserable people I have ever met chased rapture in the moments and could not understand why chasing momentous euphoria did not lead to anything other than the chase for more rapturous moments.  Like any drug, the mind and body build a resistance to the drug over time, and more and more of the drug is required to obtain a similar experience.  Be the drug sugar, chocolate, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, etc., the pattern is the same, and the consequences are the same.  Depression, anxiety, addiction, destruction, call the consequences what you will, chasing the rapture of moments is death.

We conclude with the following from Robert Louis Stevenson, may his words ring out on our journey for joy as a beacon and a sounding board to base decisions upon:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauties, nor failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he has; whose life is an inspiration; whose memory, a benediction.”

May your quest for joy be fruitful!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.