I’m thinking about the poor rich farmer in Luke’s gospel. 12th chapter, verses 15- 21. Greed and idolatry. The parable offers a back way in to the economy of grace by means of bad example. Sometimes they just nail you.
There are so many ways to fall into greediness. It’s not just about money. Or possessions. Or position. Or control. But it is always about economy. I wonder if we can contemplate lilies? Can we trust grace? Can we participate in jubilee and resurrection?
Last week I was up at the cabin. This lovely humble retreat on five acres of woods in the Thumb, a short walk to Lake Huron. Just outside the back door beneath the red pine, grows a lovely little blackberry vine. Red and black clusters tucked among silvery green tender leaves on red stem. So beautiful. I was struck by how many good berries had withered on the vine. The whole thing really touched me – the graceful beauty of the curve of that vine broke me open. I noticed and wondered about the good fruit that had been missed by two-footed, four-footed and winged creatures. Why had all that goodness been passed over? Now there’s a mystery.
I thought about those berries that had been missed and felt a deep sadness. I started reflecting on the things in my own life that seem to me like good ripe fruit, ready for picking, but which still seem to wind up dying on the vine. My sadness began to sour into resentment. And I felt greedy for all the life that I feared was dying on my vine, on all our vines. There was not a lily in sight to even consider.
I was back at the cabin this week. I’d come laden with assorted spring-turning-into-summer berries intent on pie. Remembering those blackberries out back, I went foraging to add to the innards of what was becoming a real fruits-of-the-forest pie. There are lots of berries along the backside of the barn next door. The place for all practical purposes has gone feral. The blackberries have fared well and spread like crazy. There were lots of ripe berries – enough for two pies!
Here’s what I noticed while foraging and picking the abundant ripe ones: there were even more – lots more – berries that had died on the vine. In fact, it looks to me like MOST fruit dies on the vine. I laughed out loud at last week’s sorrow that can so easily go sour in me. It made my heart lighter and I felt less greedy. And not so worried. Though the mystery remains!
Today I celebrate the plentiful harvest, ripe fruit within reach and season. And I am gladdened and grateful for the seeds in the shriveled berries still clinging to the vine. All these I lay down on the Lord’s altar with thanksgiving. This is grace. And this is jubilee.