Embers From the Fire
A weekly blog by Deacon Dan Wagnitz for the Quad-Parish Community
Fruits of Labor – 6/18/21
This morning is one that I have waited for since early last summer. The strawberries are ready. Michelle and I headed out the door early before the day grew too hot. The field’s website stated that picking would begin at 7:00 AM, but we got there a few minutes early to find the parking area already filling up and some people were already loading flats of berries into their trunks.
Strawberries have always been a favorite of mine. When I was young, we lived near the edge of a field. In June wild strawberries grew in that edge. Wild strawberries are tiny compared to farmed berries, but for a week or so I would start my day by picking a cup of the sweet little red berries to pour over my breakfast cereal. They were delicious. Even the pink milk left in the bottom of the bowl was a taste treat.
We didn’t have any grandchildren with us this morning, so we probably finished faster. They aren’t usually much help, but it’s fun to have them along when it works out. I remember Hannah, now a teen, when she was three her and her mom came to experience strawberry picking. She was having none of it. Too much work. Too far of a walk from the car. Too long. The climax of her protest was to plunk down right in the patch and refuse to budge. The ripe berries stained the bottom of her pants. It took mom and daughter a few years to try again.
But there were several young helpers in the row next to me today. So, I heard plenty of, “Grandma, look at how big this one is!” “Grandma is this one red enough?” “Grandma how many more are we going to pick?” Grandma can I eat this one?” Grandma did a lot of encouraging and nodding and nudging until I heard her say that they had enough for today – she can always come back again (without so much help next time).
Picking strawberries is a lesson in judgement. How red is red enough? I hear people around me reminding their helpers, “Only pick the real red ones now.” But sometimes the berry is red on top and still white/green underneath. Sometimes the real red ones are overly ripe and shriveling up.
It makes one wonder how God evaluates ripeness. Plenty of times we express our anger when we insist, “Too young!”, but God says, “Just right.” Sometimes even the old ask, “How much longer?”, but God replies, “Not yet”. It is always the one who picks the fruit who makes the harvest decision.
We will enjoy the fruits of our labor throughout the year. Fresh berries. Strawberry pie and jam. And plenty of berries will go in the freezer to bring a touch of June to some bitter cold winter day. Enjoy.