There’s this season here, one so short it’s often missed in the start up of school or glances upward to the trees in anticipation of changing colors. The corn has long been picked, the beans blanched and freezer bound, ready for winter eating. But this season is just making its debut. This fruit is just getting underway.
And I don’t mean apples.
No. This one calls to the more adventurous picker. The one willing to explore the woods, the meadows, the hills. A type of ‘hidden treasure’, it calls to the one willing to sacrifice body for berry.
The blackberry grows well up here, but there are cons, risks and perils that await anyone readying to pick the delicious kernel. It’s reminds me of life on so many levels and I’ve learned much from the blackberry these past weeks as I’ve picked and plucked alongside my mom and dogs.
Since the moment sin entered the world we as humans have been doing everything in our power to prevent ‘nature’ from hurting, killing us. We make shelters, homes, barns to protect. We carry weapons, fire, bug spray. We cover ourselves in boots, clothes, and protective gear. We’ve thought of just about everything we can to keep ourselves safe.
We say the scriptures in our minds; fear not I AM with you.
Even with all that, we get a little scared. We get a littler nervous about all the possibilities life can throw at us. The what-ifs, the maybes. Woods at dusk can be a bit creepy, no matter how old we get.
On my journey to the blackberry trails, I have to make sure I have several things before I venture out. A partner in the form of my mom. My cell phone. A bucket for picking. Bug spray. My dogs. A 4-wheeler. Long pants. Long-sleeved shirt. And good boots.
Why so much?
Well, for one thing there ARE bears here. I’ve seen them and I know for a fact they LOVE blackberries. Have you ever seen their droppings this time of year? It’s full of seeds—blackberry seeds! Just the possibility of their presence as I’m leaning over a bank for that purple ripeness is enough to make me shiver. It’s true—they mostly run. They probably hear the 4-wheeler and me miles away and leave, but you hear stories, and your mind wanders and before you know it you’re going crazy inside your head. You just can never know these things.
I’d like to think my dogs would rescue me from their jaws, fighting and attacking the creature to save me, like Old Yellar, Lassie. But, who really knows that for sure?
Truly, the bears aren’t even half the fear.
The blackberry bush itself is something straight out of my life. There’s a story weaving off every branch, every thorn, every berry, and when I look closely I get more fearful of that than anything else.
In essence, the blackberry bush IS my life.
I wear the pants to protect my legs from scratches, but still the branches cling so tight, digging right through the material. It’s a sting so piercing you sometimes yell in pain. I got one right across my face, the thorns staying there like an unwelcome guest, the redness sore, irritating. They’re sneaky—these bushes, waiting for just the right moment to wrap around your arm, the top of your head, your legs—so persistent in their attack.
Kind of like me with life—relentless, annoying, stinging words and/or actions seeping out of my thorny flesh, seeping through my mind.
Thank goodness for that flower amidst all those thorns! The one that pops out in the springtime, the sun warming, cultivating, sweet-talking it into something more. Something worth picking and actually eating. All because of the sun. Or should I say Son? You get the idea.
These bushes wouldn’t exist without the sun. Just a few short years ago the bushes I pick from weren’t even here. Just pine tree after pine tree. Only by logging the land, gutting it and taking away its natural beauty would it allow the sun entrance to the forest floor—the blackberry bush taking root, finally growing as it was designed. A whole new beauty produced.
And so, I pick the fruit and pray my own life into something like this, something with not just thorns, but one full with luscious beauty. Able to be picked and used and enjoyed.
I want to be picked and enjoyed because this ‘season of picking’ is so short. For a blackberry it’s just about 2 weeks of steady picking. Maybe 3 if you’re lucky.
For me, well, that’s still to be determined. I’m still here. Still full of thorns and parked on a bank where bears run wild—yet the Son pours His light on me everyday, weighing my branches down with the ripeness of His love, His word, His blessing.
Now that’s something worth growing for.
For the record I got 28 jars of jelly this season. We’ll enjoy this well into our long winter months!