by Carolyn Lane
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—
his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
I love raspberries! There's something about their intricate structure and striking range of hues that intrigues me. And that flavor… There's nothing like sun ripened raspberries to bathe your taste buds with melt-in-your-mouth sweetness!
One of my favorite reflection times is to walk out to the garden barefoot before beginning my workday. The air is so fresh and crisp and the grass is heavy with iridescent dewdrops, awakening my senses to a new day. What a treat to walk among the garden and talk with God, sometimes picking a handful of peas or asparagus or to graze on tender beans!
June is the month when my strawberries and raspberries are typically loaded with luscious fruit. I love strawberries, but there's something about raspberries that makes them my favorite. It's easy to walk around the patch and find berries on the surface of the vines, just waiting to be plucked and savored. A quick scan of the berry patch can lead me to believe that I've picked them all. But the real surprise is when I kneel down and look up. Often I am delighted to find clusters of beautiful jewel-like berries hiding beneath the leaves, invisible from the top. They can only be discovered by kneeling down and looking up.
During these early morning times of contemplative feasting, I often wonder how many of God's blessings I miss because I'm in too much of a hurry to look beyond the superficial. How many spiritual jewels does God desire to offer me? But in order to receive them, I must first slow down, kneel down (at least figuratively) and look up to the generous Giver of all Good Gifts (including raspberries!) Then I discover new blessings, ripe for the picking, that I would've completely missed if I'd limited my time and efforts to the easily seen.
It causes me real dismay when I've been stuck in “GO mode” and let the pressures of life and work keep me from that special quiet time with the Lord in the raspberry patch. The fruity gifts offered to me have a limitation…if I fail to receive them, they eventually fall to the ground to bless others. To see those overlooked, overripe berries rotting on the ground breaks my heart and makes me wonder what else I've missed by living in such a rush. Yet I am comforted by the thought that in God's economy, nothing is ever wasted. Each raspberry that falls to the ground becomes dinner for a myriad of insects, worms and microscopic organisms, which in turn feed the soil and the raspberry plants themselves. But if those ruby blessings were intended for me, I missed the mark. How many gifts does God wish to shower on me, but I’m too busy to even notice and pass them by?
It strikes me that like so many of God’s blessings, I didn’t do anything to earn these delightful little gifts. I didn’t take time to do anything to the raspberry patch this year…no pruning, no thinning, no fertilizing, no nothing. Yet these beautiful plants still continued to bless me with gobs of raspberries in spite of my neglect. What generosity and grace! All I had to do was get down on my knees, lift up my hands and receive. How often it is with the blessings God has intended for us. We don’t have to earn anything. He just wants to shower us with “sprinkles of his love” because we are his children and he loves us.
Another analogy that often strikes me as I pick raspberries is that I must be openhanded to receive the treats offered by the raspberry vines. If my fists are tightly closed, they cannot receive. Likewise, I must come to God with an open, receptive heart willing to listen and receive whatever the Spirit wishes to show or teach me that day. If I close my heart, it becomes a clenched fist which is incapable of receiving or being taught anything. How much better to ask the Spirit to help me be open and childlike, approaching the garden with wonder and anticipation. I believe Jesus looks forward to those special, simple times together as much (or more) than I do!
How wonderful that the Lord of the Harvest continues to provide garden blessings long after the berry season is over! Although my raspberries and strawberries are "June bearing", our Lord is "everbearing" and his mercies are new every morning/365. He continues to give, even if I fail to receive. Even when I am neglectful, He continues to extend grace. Yet how much better when I am generous and intentional with my time spent with God and his creation. For me, there is no better way to bless my Father and show my love and gratitude towards him!
So slow down, get down and look up and see what "raspberry blessings" your loving Father wants to surprise you with!
Remove your shoes. Walk barefoot in the dewy grass, savoring the morning buffet for your senses. Feel, smell, listen, paying attention to the fascinating details that are overlooked in daily "chronos time." Notice the iridescent nature of a dewdrop balanced on a leaf. Look for a spider web sparkling with dew and wonder at the intricacy of its design. Perhaps you will be doubly blessed by witnessing a hummingbird swooping close, then hovering as it dines on tiny insects served up in the web. Observe the plants around you. Listen to the breeze in the leaves, the morning birds as they begin their songs of celebration, the chatter of squirrels searching for breakfast, insects beginning to stir in the rising sunrays. Breathe deeply of the Spirit and fresh air, filling your lungs with new life. Raise your hands in praise and gratitude to the Son. Thank your loving Father of Lights, the Giver of all Good Gifts! Move into your day with new awareness of God's constant presence and love for you, his precious child for whom, through the life of his very own son, has made all things new.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father
of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth
through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all he created.
1 Apply these principles in whatever way that best suits the natural environment in which you chose to do this practice.