This morning I took the kids to our favorite secluded park to pick black raspberries. I was certain I would hit paydirt, but instead most of the spots had already been picked over. We had a great time wading the creek and walking around, but my measly one quart of berries was less than I had hoped for.
I drove away slowly craning my neck for just a few more, and then I spotted it, the mother load of berries! I gleaned more in a couple of minutes wading through that brush than I had in an hour tromping through the park.
Life with God is so similar. Just as we’ve shifted our expectations to accepting something is over, lost or gone, He shows up in big and amazing ways.
Black raspberries are a fruit of neglect. The less you do to your property, the more likely you are to grow berries. This is truly the perfect kind of harvesting for people like us who strive do the least amount of work possible and don’t care too much (but a little) about how overgrown their place looks.
Our neglect is the earth’s abundance.
Of all your harvests, those
Are pleasantest that come
Freest: blackberries from
Wild fencerows; strawberries
You happen on in crossing
The grassy slopes in June;
Wild cherries and wild grapes,
Sour at first taste, Then sweet;
Persimmons and blackhaws
That you pick up to eat
On days you walk among
The red and yellow leaves;
And walnuts, hickory nuts
Gathered beneath the trees
In your wild foragings
The earth feeds you the way
She feeds the beasts and birds.
An exceprt from Wendell Berry’s poem “The Farm”
The first summer we lived here we went on a trip to Disney World. I ran down over the hill early the morning we set out on the journey to Orlando and found a patch of wild berries. I had never eaten a wild raspberry before, despite having grown up in the country, but I plucked one and popped it in my mouth. We drove off and I spent the next couple of hours worrying that I had in fact ingested a poisonous berry masquerading itself as a harmless raspberry. Spoiler alert: I survived.
My confidence has grown quite a bit since then, in many ways, and I now find myself plucking weeds out of the ground to dry for salves and counting down the days until our blackberries finally ripen.
God wants to take care of us in the same sort of way if we allow Him. We don’t have to work hard pruning and cutting and mowing because He will do all of that for us. He is a good and gracious God that provides us with way more than we could ever imagine.
Picking berries is a poky business. I suit up in my tall boots and long pants, but still get pricked and poked trying to reach that clump of beautiful berries just a little too far into the bramble. The scratches are worth it, though every time I think of the first person to successfully receive penicillin because a scratch from his rose bushes turned into a life threatening infection. Apparently, scratches can be deadly.
Oh, but one bite of those juicy, complexly flavored morsels is worth the bug bites, the scratches, the tromps through the high and itchy grass. The greater the risk we take the higher the reward, and earth doesn’t give much greater rewards than a ripe black raspberry.