Season One – "A Harvest of Friends"
This episode is so good, what a great pilot to kick off the best television series ever! It is the perfect introduction to the Ingalls family just moving to town. It gives the viewers the core of who the Ingalls are … a family extremely devoted to each other and to God. Laura says something as their new house is completed that rings so true “Home is the nicest word there is.” Oh to hear these words out of the mouths of my kids, for them to be so content and grateful and love the home we have built. It takes work and humility, and reminders again and again!
So Charles is working himself like crazy to finish the house, while working at the mill to work off the lumber … and then takes on a second job in exchange for the plow and seed. He is exhausted! The part where Pa falls asleep before church, heading out to the fields before the family returns is hilarious. Caroline is so furious with him, working on the Sabbath. His words are “God understands farmers!” Not to over spiritualize it but I think what Charles said is true. God understands us so deeply, He doesn’t want our empty rituals but our hearts. I think there are seasons where we work ourselves to the bone for our families with a goal in mind, but those times cannot be the norm. There must be rest and family time and time to worship our great God!
I also love what Caroline says in bed that night, still fuming! “Time spent being angry with you is such a waste.” What a gem of insight for marriages! If we could only realize the precious moments we waste in anger with our spouses … we don’t ever get those moments back. I have wasted so many nights being angry over the silliest things that don’t matter. I laugh as I think of how we can at times feel justified in our anger, Ma reading the Bible and mad! Could we really think that God is pleased with our angry hearts?
When Charles ultimately falls out of the tree, hurting himself badly, the story takes a turn. He has so much to lose and no way to finish the work to keep his end of the deal. Doesn’t it seem like bad things happen at the worst of times? These are the times when we have a choice to make. We can become bitter and give up or we can have hope and fight on. Charles did this when he got dressed and walked into town, attempting to resolve the problem. He didn’t have a choice in his mind, he had to believe that something could be done. As he is pulling grain sacks in pain, falling to the ground … forced to watch Laura and Mary try to stack the heavy bags … the music lightens. All the men from town one by one come over to help. Charles is left to watch these new friends save his farm, save his family.
With oxen ready to return home, he is overwhelmed by their kindness when Dr. Baker and Mr. Hanson announce that they will be holding a planting contest at church. They wanted to ask if he would allow them to use his fields … Really they know that Charles won’t be well enough to plant his crop. Do you ever have a hard time accepting help from others? When we are in a spot where we can’t do it all on our own, God uses people to help us and we get a dose of humility and gratitude. These hard times shape us and mold us so we can have compassion for others.
I love how it says so much about pulling together as a family, and yet sometimes you need friends around you when a trial hits. I’ve seen this episode so many times and can’t help but get choked up every time, especially this last time as I reflected on the tremendous support that rallied around my family this past fall with my brain surgery. I cannot begin to explain the people who came to our rescue with food, gifts, and company. It was humbling … one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is accepting help and then be willing to give help when you can. There is nothing more valuable than a harvest of friends!