• Rossendale Circuit

Portions - From The Garden Bench

with David Hollows

From the Garden Bench – Portions

Have you noticed how much smaller portions appear to be?

If you do not buy tins of food items only fresh, then you may not have noticed. But seriously, tin sizes have reduced and even slices of certain breads in certain stores have shrunk.

Portions are in the news at the moment for a variety of reasons.

First, there is a national urgency as a result of the pandemic to reduce the number of people who are a deemed to be obese. Although the biologists tell us that for a number of people, it is the gene formation which causes either body mass or the need to eat certain foods, nevertheless, the government wants us all to reduce our health risks by eating more healthily and with smaller portions – eat less but eat better.

Doubtless, there will some of you out there who by now will be making notes in your brain about what eating was like in the war years, when a family member tended the allotment and perhaps you had chickens at the end of the garden and how difficult it was in the war years and just after to purchase even fresh fruit.

There will be some of you commenting that other nations should be doing more than their fair share to resolve the world food crisis. For example, if you have visited the United States you will remember the large portions of food consumed in that society. Some of you may be already recommending that we should follow the European ways of eating food. For example, in France only one vegetable will be served with the main course at the evening meal not potatoes with at least one other vegetable as we do here in our own country.

As well as the issue of obesity raised by the pandemic, those of you who closely watch the climate change issues, you will already be thinking of the ways by which we are recommended to reduce the damage to the climate by food. One suggestion is to reduce the dairy farming industry by having fewer cows on the planet therefore less milk, cheese and other dairy products as cows are not good for the environment. Those of you who are interested in the farming industry will already be aware of the significant changes coming down the line, not simply because of the recent trade deal with Australia and the huge amount of imports that will travel across the world in the next decade, rather that in order to access funding, farmers will have to decide how better to portion their land for various outcomes; a portion for woodland to plant trees which will support the climate, a portion for wild farming of grasses and flowers to attract those insects which pollinate plants and a portion on which to grow food or rear animals.

If none of the above appeals to you, then why not explore a building site near to you. In years between and after the wars, the Councils across the country build social housing in estates with large gardens. In the 1970’s there was a rush to buy land and erect bungalows with drives and big gardens. You may live in or near some of these. Whereas, if you explore the latest building site on Burnley Road on the way to Crawshawbooth, you will notice how tall these new buildings are, as currently, the rule of thumb is that building companies build upwards to 3 or 4 stories and not outwards in order to fit as many buildings as possible on the portion of land at their disposal.

Check it out!

Photo by Joanie Simon via Unsplash

Portions of land are not something new. Following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William rewarded his friends by giving them portions of estates taken from the English. Lancashire was a popular example of this reward system and in the Middle Ages a family’s wealth was determined by the portion of lands the family held.

This word portion appears in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament where it has several meanings.

The first mention of the word, portion is in the negotiation held between Abram and the King of Sodom following the rescue of his nephew Lot. The word in this example refers to all the belongings, people and land attributed to Abram. (Genesis chapter 14 verse 14).

Generally, the word, portion, refers to land. For example, Joseph buys all the portions of land in and around Egypt during the famine for the Pharaoh simply to give people money by which then to buy food from Joseph. (Genesis chapter 47 verse 22) Portions of land are bequeathed from one generation to another as in the case of Jacob blessing Joseph and his sons. (Genesis chapter 48 verse 22) God gives clear instructions as to how to leave a legacy of a portion of land (Deuteronomy chapter 21 verse 17) and Joshua is very clear about which portions of land the tribes of Israel are to receive once they are in the Promised Land (Joshua chapter 17) so much so, that Caleb is able to claim his portion many years after God’s promise to him (Joshua chapter 14).

The word, portion, does not always mean a portion of a particular piece of land. God clearly outlines how the portions of war and the spoils are to be distributed. (Numbers chapter 31 verse 36).

Portion also includes food. For example, Aaron and the priests are allocated portions of meat and bread from the offerings presented by the Israelites. (Leviticus chapter 6 verse 17 and chapter 7 verse 35).

Elkanah, the priest, gives double portions of food to the wife he loves most, Hannah (1 Samuel chapter 1 verse 5).

The meaning of the word changes again when used by key biblical characters. Solomon uses the word to mean ‘reward’ when he discusses the joy of work and the pleasure gained by being productive. (Ecclesiastes chapter 2 verse 10 and chapter 3 verse 22).

Nehemiah warns Sanballat and his friends that they have ‘no portion or right’ in the restored Jerusalem (Nehemiah chapter 2 verse 20) As for Job, his portion is of family and heritage not land as he is blessed with more at the end of his life than he had at the beginning.(Job chapter 20 verse 29) in the Psalms, the writer uses the word, portion, to express the punishment from God to the wicked (Psalm 11 verse 6) or that God is everything to and for him, portion here meaning relationship (Psalm 73 verse 26).

With Isaiah the prophet, portion is used to express the revenge God will have upon the enemies of Israel (Isaiah chapter 17 verse 14) but also to convey the rewards that God will give His people because of what they forfeited owing to other nations (Isaiah chapter 61 verse 17).

In the New Testament, the word, portion, appears very little and the most memorable example is in the story of the Prodigal Son when the errant son asks for his portion of the family inheritance.(Luke chapter 15).

Here is a section of Lamentations chapter 3 on which the hymn, ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ is based and which may resonate with your own sense of portion in our God.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.

‘’ The Lord is my portion,’’ says my soul, ‘’therefore I will hope in him.’’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the souls who seek him.

(Lamentations chapter 3 verses 21 – 25)

God bless you

Signing off; your local Lay worker, David Hollows

Photo by Philip Stieber via Unsplash

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