Wednesday, August 28, 2013

By Their Fruits...

We had another terrific family reunion this summer in Nashville, Arkansas! It was good for me to spend time with relatives because less than three days later I took off for Vietnam. This entry, from July 13, 2009, is about our reunion four summers ago and how it relates to my coming to be!

I have to tell you, I have a soft spot in my heart for berries. My father was raised in Michigan and his folks raised blueberries to sell. With the profits from their produce, my grandparents were able to send Dad to Harding College, a world away in Arkansas, where he met the red headed young lady who would become my mom. I could make the argument that my conception depended on blueberries. That might be a stretch but I can truthfully state that blue has always been my favorite color.

On the Friday morning of our family reunion, Uncle Jack announced that we were going berry picking. I drove the pickup truck with my cousins Emma and Walker while Uncle Jack cruised ahead on his John Deere mower. On two roadside fence rows separated by a half mile, the four of us picked wild berries in the early morning Arkansas heat. Uncle Jack told us their names which I didn't recognize- I would have thought they were mulberries. An hour worth of picking yielded two large Styrofoam cups full of fruit which graced the breakfast table the next two mornings. (One is shown above in a shot wonderfully framed by the nine year old camera prodigy, Emma.)

I don't know how Uncle Jack spotted those berry patches. I could have driven by those fences forever and never discovered anything edible entwined with the barbed wire. Uncle Jack knew where to look...and he was looking. Jesus used numerous illustrations and parables using fruit as the context. The Savior compared fruit to recognition of leaders, to the harvest of souls, to the reward for hard work. His only miracle of destruction concerned a fig tree that was acting like it should be producing fruit, but was not. It's easy to see how Jesus could come up with so many applications from such uncomplicated subject matter. Picking berries for only an hour sheds light on so many things. It was hot the day we went out and there were thorns. Emma and Walker had to overcome fatigue, discomfort, fear of high grass, and bugs if they wanted success, no easy task at ages nine and seven, respectively. The newness wore off quickly with the realization that it takes a considerable number of berries to fill a cup. Sometimes, you had to reach way back to find the better berries and sometimes, it wasn't evident which berries were the better ones. But, time and persistence- and Uncle Jack's encouraging- produced a nice gathering for the benefit of the whole family. As Christians, without calculating obstacles into the equation, we expect instant gratification in our spiritual harvests. Nature has never worked that way and the Lord never promised easy results. He did promise, however, that the harvest was plentiful. Sometimes, we just have to overcome a few thorns.

Applicable quote of the day:
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.

Wendell Berry

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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