by Harriet E. Michael
“And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12 (ESV)
I first noticed this verse in an old handwritten book my father has on his shelf. It was handed down to him by his mother who got it from her mother. It appears to be an old journal of some type. On the pages of the book are poems gathered and carefully written by its first owner. Some are famous poems while others are original work by family members. My grandmother and even my father have some original poems hand written by them in this treasured book. The book is titled, “Gathered Fragments” and this verse is written in beautiful penmanship on the first page.
These words in scripture were actually an instruction by Jesus to his disciples after the miraculous feeding of five thousand people. The crowd which gathered to hear Jesus was hungry. It was lunchtime and the people were without food. Most of them had come spontaneously without planning ahead even enough to have brought lunches. Rather than going home, the disciples found a little boy with a small lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. After blessing the food, Jesus broke it into pieces, and offered it to the hungry crowd who consumed it eagerly. Then, when the crowd had eaten all they wanted, the disciples were told to “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.”
Isn’t that a beautiful instruction? How do you gather fragments? Do you have a collection of some kind? Perhaps you collect rocks, coins, or stamps. Maybe you like to make scrapbooks? Do you keep old photos and relics from years gone by; polished and put in a place of honor in your home or give them away as special gifts? My father has a plaque hanging in his home of an old letter he wrote to his mother from camp when he was a child. His sister found the letter and made a very special birthday gift for him one year. Maybe you have carefully held onto family heirlooms so you can pass them to the next generation. Or perhaps, you gather fragments in other ways. Maybe you can or freeze garden vegetables for winter eating or maybe you gather and dry herbs, fruits, or vegetables.
I have written about this concept before. In fact this blog post is drawn from a previously published magazine article I once wrote. But as I thought about our topic this month, this verse and practice kept coming to my mind. I think one of the best ways to keep costs down is to have a habit of gathering things that can be reused at another time by us or by others.
When the disciples gathered the fragments in the Bible story, they had twelve baskets left over. Though this was a miraculous occurrence, the underlying principle is still valid. If you or I form fragment gathering habits, we will find abundance in our lives too. And so will others whom we bless with our fragments–carefully gathered and lovingly given.
Writing Prompt: Share about something you gather and reuse. How do you keep / alter it for future use? How/ when do you use it again?