Monday, August 5, 2013

The Art Of Bearing Fruit

Mist hung like a smoky veil over the valley. The blanket of shadowy droplets rolled out and settle into the furrows between the rows of corn.

Tires threw streams of sand onto the sides of the car, as we ascended another low hill in these rolling hills. Before turning south we pass a tiny cemetery with no name, that is marked off with a white picket fence on one side and an old shaggy tree line on the side along the country road.  The road continued to cut through the valley, as it turns and twists, before opening to the well groomed and established farm.  

My friend greets us, her dark mane of hair crowns her beauty. For the decade that has passed, she dreamed up and lived, a thriving business making hand harvested, handcrafted jellies.

It was a labor of love with impeccable quality behind each jar. Her gifts in business sense, work ethic, and faith were rewarded with an ever growing entrepreneur  endeavor. 

My motives were purely selfish, this sadness, when she announced she was giving up her business. In light of that news, she held out an invitation to come gather choke cherries, all free for the picking. 

She appeared from the shed with the tools of her wild-fruit-gathering trade. Mainly buckets with handles and one well worn leather belt. A thinly stretched area marked where she placed the handle of the bucket, then she buckled the tan strap around her waist.  

This freed her hands to pick the fruit. With palms up, she reached her long slender fingers, to grasp dark purple-red berries. Firm  gentle motion plucked each fleshy gem. She didn't rip the vine, but left an empty spine where the fruit had hung. It was as if, each bush was an old friend and she was thankful for the gifts it gave.

We began to imitate her actions. Imperfectly we began to pick along side her and soon the awkwardness melted into repeated pattern and rhythm.  

We were flanked on one side by a wall of corn standing like soldiers at attention all strong, straight and tall. A dome of  storm clouds built, on this unseasonably cool summer evening, as we shared in the art of harvesting wild fruit. 

Something lovely happens when people gather and forget the trappings of life. Beyond short-comings, deep insecurities, comparison and perfection, we peer into where the real beauty lies.

We kept saying, how nice it was to just be outside, gathering with our hands, wild fruit and the value of spending time with each other. We talk about how long ago women probably found community when they worked together doing the common things that took more effort than today.

That perhaps those things considered common, were more divine than we thought.

Because we need to spend time with each other. We need people who will love us and speak truth that builds up, extend encouragement and to rub against each others imperfect lives. Our busy lives often cause us to miss this unwinding together.    

Now after a decade of harvesting wild fruit to run this business, she tells me she has put priorities in place. To work along side her husband, to be there for her sons and the better things.

But she had to let go of something good, first.

There are so many things to spend our greatest resource of time on. How do we discern and choose, the best, over just the good?

The verse says that there is fruit that will not spoil. 

And that we are to be fruit bearers. 

Fortunately it tells us how to do this.

We ask the Father in Jesus name.

In another verse it tells us that we must stay connected to the Vine.
(read here?) 

That's all.

Stay connected.

Pray about everything we do for Him, in His name. 

Seek what is best, not just what seems good.

Imperfectly, with palms up.

As we drive home, the rain moves in. 

Pastures of prairie hay and rows of corn, roll out a thick carpet with hues of olive, sage and deep tones of green. 

Our buckets are full of fruit, gathered like precious rubies and that is what I want my life to produce.

But I ask myself this: What am I hanging on to that seems so good, but may be standing in the way of the best? 

* In my area it seems to be a "good year" for choke cherries.
I have not tried my hand at much jelly. So with lots of encouragement from my friend Kat and following this recipe we had good success. Before this I had tried a few other recipes and my success rate was not as high. Choke Cherry Syrup anyone? : ]

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