“Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.” (Luke 6:44 NIV)
Whenever Jesus talks about the evidence of His good Kingdom in the world and in people’s hearts, He uses the word “fruit.” That’s an easy analogy to make. Fruit is what is produced from things planted deep in the ground, and so we too are to be planted deep into Christ. The gardening metaphors are endless.
But I think there is something more to be said of fruit. Sure, it has great analogies of production, but very few of us are farmers anymore. We aren’t particularly concerned with the yields from the apple trees in the Yakima valley except when it’s apple picking time. Think about that time, however. Even people who aren’t farmers love the harvest. We rejoice when it’s time to go to an orchard or a pumpkin patch, not because we were starving or because we are going to sell our wares but because it just feels right to harvest. There is something intrinsically beautiful about knowing that it is blackberry season and seeing the dark fruits hanging from the vines and wanting to pull the car over just to pick them.
We were made for the harvest. We were made to work for it, to watch for it, to help with it. But more than that, I believe the harvest was made for us. It is a reminder that diligence and hard work have sweet and beautiful rewards. It is a time to gather friends and family together in a common task. And, truthfully, it’s fun.
Right now it is hard for us to always come together on issues and talking points. We avoid what we can and argue when we can’t. But the act of bringing food to the table, or filling our hands and mouths with purple stained berries, changes so much of that. The following is Wendell Berry’s poem “A Standing Ground” (emphasis mine).
However just and anxious I have been, I will stop and step back from the crowd of those who may agree with what I say, and be apart. There is no earthly promise of life or peace but where the roots branch and weave their patient silent passages in the dark; uprooted, I have been furious without an aim. I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.
So tonight my sons and I went to our neighbor’s house and picked blackberries, not because we needed to but because we could and because it is the right time and because the joy on their faces when they tasted the berries was worth all the prickles.
In the midst of arguments and bad attitudes, perhaps the best thing to do is be quiet and pick blackberries while the harvest is ready. You were made for it.
Ali can be reached via email here.