I was asked a little while ago to share the story of my life; I started writing things down trying to recover memories from childhood and beyond.

I’m aged 8 or 9; a tiny fragment appears at this point: a man answering my knock on his door says with a laugh, ’No, only the rags I’m wearing’. I deduce from this that I was trying to steal a march on the rag and bone man who walked around with his horse and cart and rang his bell to attract our attention. I would have had a battered pram which contained my younger sister and any rags I could glean from neighbours, and sell onto the local rag man down the road. I remember the pram because I’d take it on a Saturday morning to the local coke depot and glean where the men unloaded their lorries. I’d fill the pram, plonk my now grubby sister on the top and take my treasure home to Mum.

Reminds me of Ruth who gleaned to provide dinner for her and her mother in law, and ended up with the prize of Boaz who owned the field. It reminds me too of the moment last autumn when I watched a woman collecting plums that had fallen to the ground in a pick your own orchard, closed because of the pandemic. Her husband watched standing beside their car, an almost new SUV; he embarrassed and ashamed because he had no work; she in her humiliation, determined to find ways to put food on the table. It was a moving tableaux.

Great changes are upon us; there will be winners but there’ll also be many many casualties. We need an outpouring of compassion, tolerance and generosity as we’ve not needed it since World War 2 and beyond, when it was many years before we could easily put food on the table. What kindnesses did you do this week? Write and tell me to encourage us all.

Photo by Nadi Lindsay on

Frederick Buechner – Originally published in Brendan

PUSHING DOWN HARD with his fists on the table-top Gildas heaved himself up to where he was standing. For the first time we saw he wanted one leg. It was gone from the knee joint down. He was hopping sideways to reach for his stick in the corner when he lost his balance. He would have fallen in a heap if Brendan hadn’t leapt forward and caught him.

“I’m as crippled as the dark world,” Gildas said.

“If it comes to that, which one of us isn’t, my dear?” Brendan said.

Gildas with but one leg. Brendan sure he’d misspent his whole life entirely. Me that had left my wife to follow him and buried our only boy. The truth of what Brendan said stopped all our mouths. We was cripples all of us. For a moment or two there was no sound but the bees.

“To lend each other a hand when we’re falling,” Brendan said. “Perhaps that’s the only work that matters in the end.”

2 thoughts on “Gleaning

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  1. Hi Daryl gleaning is a word that for many is not an experience. My parents had 11 kids including me. We lived in the countryside & worked a lot on the farmers land picking various crops, at the endi the day on the potato patch we were allowed to go find any left over spuds on the surface of the we did this we often found potatoe trenches that had been exposed by the plough. This was s bonus but not really allowed as it was tommorows crop. The fireman knew we took the exposed spuds because we were hungry. Occasionally he half heartedly tell us off. My parents were marvelous they loved us we often had 2nd hand clothes & not always as clean as we should be but loved fed & cared for. Gleaning is a biblical principal of helping others without it seemingly like charity. Today we run 6 foodbanks in Brum where we try our best to make collecting a food parcel an occasion where people don’t feel guilty at not being able to feed their kids unlike gleaning there is no dignity one takes that which others have donated but have no choice about brand or make. Its wrong in today’s society but necessary. May God provide graciously to those in need & create a society where there is fare wages & proper benefits

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh My it must have been tough times when you were young. I remember the rag & bone men… who later gave goldfish in a jam jar… the fish rarely lasted very long.

    The only ‘Gleaning’ I remember would be the keener gardeners who would race out into the street armed with a bucket or sack out if the baker, or milkman, and for a time, the greengrocer & coal-man’ horses did their ‘thing’ in the street…. there would sometimes be a dispute as to who got there first!… A bit like parking spaces these days.

    We both had our jab today… but all is good here. Enjoying your Blogs.

    Blessings! BobM The Lighthouse Church – New Malden We are a community of people passionate about Jesus Christ and who want to make a positive difference in our community. Come and join us at one of our services. Visitor Information »


    Liked by 1 person

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