One by One

15 07 2013

IMG_0387 We picked 10 pounds of strawberries Friday.  The shiny-bright  red berries illuminated by the sun and contrasting with their umbrella-like leaves are the first to catch our eyes.  Then, if you know to lift a stem, you can often strike the treasure of 3 or more ripe berries at its tip.  I tasted several, I confess.  Their sun-warmed sweetness made me “mmmmm” with satisfaction.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

As the large flat filled and I stretched my shoulders, I kept reminding myself that part of the picking is the processing.  I planned to use some for my first attempt at jelly, some for freezing (save a package for Lois), some for fresh on our ice cream and cereal and to eat out of hand.  After we got home, I put off the processing job until I had rested from the labor of picking.

OK—paring knife, LARGE box of strawberries, BIG colander, begin.  One.  Two.  Three…one hundred.  A small mound occupied about a third of the colander.  Rinse well.  Pour onto cookie sheet.  Repeat.  One, two, three, two hundred.  Rinse.  Pour.  Repeat.  Cookie sheet filled.  Put in freezer.  Pan number two.  One, two, three…It wasn’t unpleasant or tiring—it felt rather rewarding, actually.  Another step closer to fresh, perfect berries, ready to eat.  Why was I counting?  At first I was curious.  I wanted to get a sense of how many berries were in 10 pounds.  It kept me focused.  I was encouraged by my progress.

I couldn’t trim the tops of even two berries at a time.  Each strawberry required singly picking it up, trimming off the green leafy stem and rinsingIMG_0939 off any dirt.  Some, large, some small, some already trimmed—yay!  One by one I continued, for over an hour, until they were all clean and trimmed.  I froze 12 cups.  What remained were red fingertips, a feeling of satisfaction, and anticipation of devouring the huge bowl of fresh strawberries in front of me!  Which I’d picked trimmed and washed—one by one.

We also had summer sweet corn for dinner.  Did you know that each one of those pesky silks we remove is attached to an individual kernel of corn?  (I sometimes study it on my plate to verify this, but usually I’m impatient to shuck the corn, or to begin eating it.)

The eagle, when she fishes, circles over the lake from above the trees, using her keen eyesight to locate her dinner.  She swoops and grabs one smallish fish (I doubt the larger ones come near the surface too often) and flies with it back to her nest to feed her young, pulling it apart piece by piece for their small beaks.  She flies off again to catch one fish.  Again.  Until all are fed.

Sometimes I imagine when the leaves falling in autumn the Creator taps them one by one—“Your turn.  Now you…”

I think we are cared for in this same way as well.  Uniquely.  According to our needs.  To grow and become (eventually) uniquely perfect—sweet and whole and complete.  I have a very hard time grasping that I could be that worthy of God’s attention!  Yet, here it is in the rhythms of nature.  One can also find affirmation of such attention in Biblical passages.  No cookie cutter human beings or spiritual relationships here—everyone has their own time, their own path.  You, dear friend, are a carefully nurtured one and only creation!

He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.  Ps. 147:4

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent ? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  Mt. 10:29

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Mt. 10:30

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ; and man became a living being.  Gen. 2:7

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