God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day. Genesis 1.31
There was not an overall plan. It just sort of unfolded this way. When my teenage grandson visits, food is a much higher priority than when he is not here. First, we went to the farmers market where we found all sorts of fresh vegetables and wonderful fresh fruit – seven-and-a-half pounds of fruit, to be exact, not including the watermelon. There also happened to be quarter-bushels of tomatoes sorted for canning. Loaded with fresh peas, okra, squash, zucchini, cabbage, assorted fruit, and nearly a bushel of tomatoes, my grandson and I headed to the house where I… baked his favorite cake, of course – my grandmother’s pound cake. He on the other hand was introduced to the delight of shelling purple hull peas, a pleasure he regarded rather dubiously.
The next morning, after I cut up fruit and fruit and more fruit, my grandson joined me in the kitchen to plop tomatoes in boiling water to skin them. The first go ‘round, we forgot to drop them in ice before trying to pull the skin off, but within a screaming hot tomato or two, that step in the process shot out of the recesses of my memory. I only do this once a year… My canning mentor told me she is using a new method: rather than quarter tomatoes as they go in the jar, she squeezes them into a pot, thereby keeping all the juice of each tomato and making for a very pretty jar on the shelf. Do you know that when you squeeze a skinless tomato, juice can shoot up to four feet in a single squirt? I did not know that. This seems like an important tidbit of information to have prior to spraying the ceiling and cabinet doors with fresh, hot tomato juice. But the jars do look really pretty.
In an effort to engage my grandson for the better part of a day at little cost to myself, we went blueberry picking at a blueberry farm about an hour away. Did we go first thing in the morning when it was cool? Oh no, that would have been too easy. Apparently, seven o’clock Saturday morning and teenage male are conflicting states of nature. Sadly, spoiled grandson and stupid grandmother appear to be much more closely related. At high noon on the hottest Saturday of the year thus far, my grandson and I wandered into the blueberry patch. When I started singing with Trace Adkins, he wandered off about three or four rows away thus ending our “bonding” time. Frankly, I sometimes like Trace Adkins better anyway.
Approaching heat stroke stage after an hour and a half, I sent him for water, while I lay on the grass under a tree. As my mother was wont to say during our childhood, that boy “does not have a hurry bone in his body.” Eventually, he returned and dribbled cold water on my red face, which actually felt pretty good even if I needed to drink it not wear it. While he picked a bit longer, I lay there and let the slight breeze blow over me. Geez, I miss country life… We headed for home with six-and-a-half pounds of blueberries, which compelled me to make a homemade blueberry pie after church on Sunday. It turns out cleaning that many blueberries takes a while, especially if one is hot and tired. The best part is that my grandson left with a red neck and the beginnings of a serious farmer’s tan. For some reason that struck me as hilarious.
God has given us so much – so very much. We get caught up in all the demands and busyness of life and forget how richly blessed we are. I am not referring chiefly to food here, although this past week certainly reminded me of how very well God does provide for us. Rather, this is our Father’s world; He created it and called it “very good.” Yes, our world is rife with sin and scarred by evil, but beneath all that we visit upon the earth is the constant, unfailing fact that this is the world our Father created, and it is very good.
Alexander Schmemann made an observation to the effect of, “the quintessential fact of Christian spirituality is the capacity to see the fundamental goodness of human beings and the world regardless of the extent to which both are soiled by sin and evil.” That is not an exact quote, but it is pretty close. What he means is that to be authentically Christian is to see the goodness of our Father’s creation beneath the filth of our wrongdoing. This spiritual skill can be likened to the skill a miner needs to spot rough diamonds in rock layers. It may be hard to see; but it is there, and it has great value.
We place such intense pressure on ourselves – to perform, to accomplish, to keep up, to have, and/or to purchase, to maintain a standard of living that is by no means evident a standard we chose or would choose for ourselves if we stopped and thought about it. I live in a luxury (loosely defined) apartment in a wooded complex, but I would be hard-pressed to believe there is anything superior about the front porch of a luxury apartment in contrast to lying on the grass under a tree with a breeze wafting over me in the middle of a blueberry farm. Environment may be a matter of personal taste, but the basic fact remains the same: regardless of the news or politics or economics, this world is a generous and abundant gift to us from our Father. Herein lies every physical thing we can possibly need. Stopping to remember and measure the goodness of creation grounds us and gives our lives a steadiness and security that are easily lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Creation itself is the constant reminder of God’s more-than-sufficient provision for us. Do we really need seven different types of fruit at one time? No, but we have that and many more varieties as well. If God provides so abundantly in small things, how much more is He prepared to provide for us when we truly need? There are no limits on what God gives.
It is so easy for us to take creation for granted, but day in and day out, creation is the ever-present clarion call of God’s goodness and generosity, if we but take the time to look around us. When God looked around, He called it “very good.” By all rights, we should do the same. The world is not less good because sin abounds. The goodness is just shrouded is all. We have to look for it. We have to take time to see what really surrounds us, and then to be grateful. If we can be still long enough truly to take stock of all that our Father has given us in creation, we may well discover we have more than we need, even as we realize we really do want less than we thought. Such is the foundation for a life of contentment and ease. Few things in our generation would set Christians apart from the masses more than contentment and easy laughter and enjoyment. I pray these blessings will find you in the days ahead.
In Christ –
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