“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth.”
As I begin this blog project, the red clumps of maple flowers are beginning to fall from the branches of the trees on my street. Pretty soon the leaves will bud out and grow to fill the canopy. Early spring brings subtle changes, but as April progresses and spring comes to fullness here in Southeast Michigan, green will overtake the quiet grays and browns that have dominated for these past several months since November. There will be many more flowers that splash this greening with vibrant color. This is a season of buds and blossoms and therefore a time of rebirth and an anticipation of fruits that will form.
I don’t remember the first time I went to pick berries, I was very young. From that early age, if my father and I were together when the wild black raspberries ripened in early July, and there was a bramble near, we would go and gather them. We filled our mouths and old coffee cans with the sweet fruit that my grandmother transformed into delicious jam and pies to eat with ice cream.
In the raspberry bramble with my dad, I learned of the pleasures of quiet, companionable work and the treat of eating fresh sun-kissed raspberries that were like a gift from the generous earth. There were also other valuable experiences to be gleaned there. I learned to identify poison ivy which often grew near the wild brambles. I learned to allow the bees their space, not to swat at them or run or scream. I learned to look and move carefully with patience because sudden, rash movements in the thorny bushes caused scratches and pricked fingers. In the end the most important lesson could be summed up in my experience that the pleasures of the berry patch were worth the occasional lacerations, mosquito bites and tired backs. There was beauty and abundance out there in the world that was worthy of the risk of sweat, sore muscles and small wounds.
Human lives are often full of challenges and heart break, fears and worries, failings and losses. There are certainly times when our circumstances, whether outer or inner, bring us into a darkness that can be so vast that it feels as if we might not see light again. This can be due to personal experiences in one’s own life and relationships, and it can be brought about by collectively difficult times in the world. Right now, many have characterized this era we are now living in as “dark times” and without going into the myriad of outrageous and heartbreaking environmental, humanitarian, spiritual and political challenges we currently face, locally and globally, I must agree. These seem like very dark times, indeed–the most challenging and potentially most destructive within my lifetime of over five decades.
Even in the most difficult of times, there is also great beauty and joy and love to be found in our lives. I can personally attest to the veracity of the suggestion that our experience of love grows and deepens as we engage in healing and learning to accept and love ourselves as we are. One could argue that the great darkness in this world is present because of an absence of felt love in those who bring about the circumstances in our world that create division and destruction. The work of healing and recognizing love is personal work, but it is essential in order to grow into our own wholeness and then to be able to pour what we have into the world and to be a force, no matter how small, for healing within it. In finding where love and beauty is in each of our lives, we may find sustenance for an enlivened, loving and active response to the difficulties in our world.
To me the ripening berry bramble is a place of abundant gifts, freely given if you are willing to put yourself there among the thorns and if you are able to accept that you will bleed a little. Life is worth the pain when you know you will taste sweetness and have something to offer to others. Setting our sights on the joy in this world does not separate us from the troubles, it enlivens us, leads us to gratitude and may give us a sense of purpose and energy for response and for the work we must do. It helps us to be strong to face the difficulties. This is why I have decided to call this blog, “Gathering Berries”.
In this offering, I aim to share what brings me to life and stimulates wonder and gratitude. I hope to provide some small points of entry to a sense of wholeness and connection. None of us are truly alone. We are indelibly interconnected with all other living things on this planet and each of us has a place in this web. Here in these written words I will share the fruit that I gather in my days and I hope that through this sharing those who come here and read might feel a sense of lightness, a glimmer of love, a feeling of connection.
May we be as the trees in spring.
May the brown and gray branches of our spirits
reach up toward the sun.
May we push forth our green and thriving leaves
into the warming air of spring and find renewal.
May we bend and bow, but not break
in the storms that are sure to come.
May our roots touch and share sustenance
so that each of us may know support in beloved community.
May we produce winged fruit with seeds
that gracefully spin down and away from us to the earth.
May our seeds serve to nourish and support other lives
and new saplings in seasons to come.
May the words that come to me for sharing
offer you a taste of sweet fruit.
The video below is an exquisite animation of flowering, interconnection and regeneration. Treat yourself!
All photos are my own.