You take care of the earth and irrigate it; You enrich it greatly, with the channel of God full of water; You provide grain for men; for so do You prepare it. Saturating its furrows, leveling its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your bounty; fatness is distilled in Your paths; the pasturelands distill it; the hills are girded with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks, the valleys mantled with grain; they raise a shout, they break into song. (65:10-14)
Shopping at a large supermarket may not always feel like a joyful experience, beginning with finding a parking place, walking to the store, slogging through crowds of people to get a cart and negotiate the aisles, finding in which aisle the produce you are seeking is located, and waiting in line at the checkout. The hassle of shopping might in fact mask the absolute miracle of what you are able to buy. How many people’s livelihood depends on the produce that you are buying? How many hours, how much sweat and worry did they invest into growing it? So much of their living depends on factors out of their control, such as the quality and quantity of rain, the sun, the temperature.
In the mid-1940’s, Florida frozen orange juice concentrate began to be marketed as “liquid sunshine.” It takes a partnership of effort to transform the energy of the sun and a handful of materials and minerals into an orange, a sweet pepper, or a banana. And to take this one step further, walk down the bread aisle and imagine the additional set of people who took the raw grain and processed it into various flavors in a variety of shapes. The traditional berakha is “… who brings forth bread from the earth,” but we know that this, too, only happens in partnership with farmers and bakers (along with those who manage the transportation issues of getting the raw ingredients to the bakery and the finished produce to the store).
So next time you go to the supermarket, keep the Psalmist’s words in mind and think about the joyful pastures and hills singing their produce to life, and think about all of the people whose lives are dedicated to bringing you the song of the meadows and valleys.