Gathering to Gather – Weekly Photo Challenge

“Love: a string of coincidences that gather significance and become miracles.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This week Krista has asked us to illustrate the concept of “gathering” – in honor of the families and friends who will gather to celebrate the holidays in the coming days. Rather than focus on the many blessings of the season, the challenge brought to my mind an experience from our recent visit to China.



“By plucking her petals you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”

Rabindranath Tagore

In several places we saw workers gathering to gather crops like rice and barley. In a country like China, where one of the primary resources is manpower, there is very little automation used in the fields. Rather the back-breaking labor is done by men and women alike. Children deliver water to the laborers who toil under the hot sun.



“He who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers.”  

Henry David Thoreau

As I watched, I was reminded of a gentle dance performed by the workers’ coordinated  efforts and synchronized movements. Almost always there were iconic straw hats or colorful tribal costumes to further enhance the scene.



“Happiness doesn’t lie in the objects we gather around us. To find it, all we need to do is open our eyes.”  

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

One of my favorite things about travel is its ability to show us the lives of people around the world. Here in the US, for the most part crops are harvested using sophisticated machinery with minimal human intervention. Living in the south though, I’ve often thought of what it must have been like in colonial times. Crops like cotton and indigo were harvested in the intense heat of the lowcountry summers, when mosquitoes and no-see-ums were plentiful and bathing was a rare and infrequent luxury. Perhaps these scenes in China reflect some of what life must have been back then.



“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”

Ansel Adams

Fingers torn, back aching, skin burned by the sun….what must a day in the fields have meant to those who labored for so little return? When the long day was over, did they share the fruits of their labor with family and friends, or more likely, did they fall into an exhausted sleep knowing tomorrow would be much the same as today?



“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”  

Thomas Paine

How fortunate are we to live in an era and in a place where food is plentiful and the work to provide it is done by others? As we enjoy our holiday meals, do we think about where they came from and whose labor went into providing them?



“Gather the stars if you wish it so.”

Carl Sandburg

It is a mere accident of birth that we live as we do while others struggle through an entirely different existence. Let us make this holiday season one of giving – not only to our families and friends but also to strangers in need. Let us be generous, sharing the gifts we’ve been given. Give a dollar to help feed the hungry. Give an hour of your time to a child who needs help learning to read – or to a hard working immigrant trying to learn English. If nothing else, give the gift of a smile to a stranger. Who knows, it just might be exactly what he or she needs right at that moment.

Wishing you all the best of the season – may peace, love and joy fill your hearts, and generosity feed your soul.

85 thoughts on “Gathering to Gather – Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. OMG once again I just have to say that the WORDS are so incredible…just beautifully written!! I love these ‘gathering’ shots….great eye!!!!

  2. Growing up in the countryside, there is not many gatherings such as those around harvest time…so a perfect interpretation of the challenge 🙂 The second photo is beautiful – the garb of the peasant, but also in that it feels like it happened right outside our backyard in the golden wheat fields. A tough and difficult life I believe these farmers in China have, but as you say when the day is over and you get together with family and friends ~ their happiness blooms.

    • Thanks Randall. I loved the colorful and traditional garb in the midst of the golden wheat. Although their lives are hard they seem content and are diligent in their work. I was amazed at how hard-working the people were and yet how pleasant and curious they were as well.

  3. We are indeed lucky to live in that part of the world where food is plentiful.. And it is almost obscene that many of us complain about weight gain whilst others go to sleep with empty stomachs night after .night. Your photos are a great reminder of the spirit of the people, culture and the environment.

  4. A wonderful post for the season, full of humanism and appreciation for our lucky lot in life when so many others around the world are struggling each and every day. Thank you for this Tina. Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season and a happy new year. Thanks for all your support and encouragement throughout the year it’s been so very much appreciated…Andrew

    • Thanks so much Andrew – i’ve so enjoyed following your artistic endeavors. I truly love your work and wish you an wonderful and creative 2016. All the best to you and yours!!

  5. The dance of synchronized movements and toiling labour is something that touched my heart. Such a pleasure to see the lives of other’s …thru your camera lenses. Thanks, again

  6. Such a touching post, Tina. There are so many others who aren’t as well off as us, and you are right, we should lend a helping hand because we can. Not to show off our privilege through doing so, but to spread a bit of kindness around and give others opportunity, or at the very least open their eyes to the kindness and good in this world. Love the quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It reminded me of his book The Little Prince, one of my favourite books of all time. Best wishes for the season, Tina, and take care 🙂

  7. A really wonderful post, Tina. Love the photos and the quotes, especially the Thoreau. It reminds me of the Alphonse Carr quote, ““Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”

  8. Pingback: WPC: Gathering (Group Shot) | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

  9. Lovely post. Beautiful pics and I like how they spark the deeper reflections on work and privilege & thankfulness. You made me think of recent news about the exploitation of child labour in Thailand to process prawns, which are standard fare for Christmas in Australia.

    • Thanks Maamej, I read that sad story as well. These days it’s hard to know where the exploitation is occurring😞 bTW, enjoyed your book bingo post! Couldn’t comment directly(long, boring story why not) but found it really interesting!

      • Yes, almost impossible to track everything we buy and find out if it’s ethically produced – we have to accept that I guess and just do as best we can. I’m glad you enjoyed the book bingo, it was fun to do.

  10. A lovely gallery of your China photos and I so agree with your sentiment that those of us who have share with those who are less fortunate. I have stopped sending cards and instead have donated to a charity which helps people at this time of year.

    • Excellent Jude. Nice to see how many of our blogging friends are so generous. Our little BFF fund here on Kiawah is growing quite nicely. If everyone did just 1 little thing, just think what we could accomplish! All the best in the New Year!

  11. Wonderful story and photos. My father is from the Philippines, and he often talked about how back-breaking planting- and harvesting rice was. Thanks for sharing–we take so much for granted.

  12. Lovely, heartfelt post. These photos and accompanying words remind me of our forefathers who toiled to establish the nation we sometimes take for granted. Thank you for the kind reminder that there still are wonderful global neighbors still toiling away to harvest their supplies. 🙂 Best wishes for a peaceful 2016.

  13. Very beautiful pictures from China! And an equally wonderful wish for the season – I fully agree and try to live by it. We have so many blessings and sharing is an even greater blessing. I wish you a joyous Holiday Season.

  14. Tina, I love your interpretation and photos, especially the second one. Even in the US, there are still crops that are picked by hand, either by immigrant workers or by families who go to the farmers markets or the like. Farming even with machinery is difficult work; by hand, even more so.

    As you so aptly remind us, ’tis the season to be generous, especially when you think that many of us don’t even have any “needs” for Christmas and may even have difficulty finding “wants.” My husband and our younger daughter are delivering a bicycle to a family who can’t afford to buy one for their little girls and we have two more to deliver and one being bought in California. It’s something we’ve done the last few years, a growth of my husband’s interest in biking and remembrance of the joy of receiving a bike of his own: One woman has contributed each year for the last two years. What a blessing!

    I pray you’re enjoying the pre-Christmas season.


    • What a fun tradition Janet, good for you! We are a bit more plebeian here but about 60 of us contribute to a fund that we than distribute to local families who need a little help. It’s grown quite. Nicely since we started it 3 years ago. If everyone who COULD do something actually DID, the world would surely be a better place. Happy new year to you and yours.

  15. Thanks for giving us the beautiful photos with a sentiment we all need to remember. We observed similar field workers in Nepal with the same thoughts you’ve shared in this post. Blessings on you and your family at this joyous, thankful time of year.

  16. I’ve been planning a post on Yangshuo and the Li River area , and a few of your photos here remind me so much of that landscape! Have I guessed correctly? Beautiful choices and words for the theme today.

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