The raspberries have done badly this year. Hard knobby green fruit have blackened and fallen off before they ever ripened into red. I am unsure if it was dryness, or early cold, or just an ‘off year’, but I was disappointed in them. In the supermarket there were huge plump red raspberries, and I bought some, with an air of resignation and a mental rebuke toward the meager production of my own bushes. Why waste time picking an inferior product, standing in thorns, getting next to nothing for my effort? But the bought raspberries belied their sumptuous appearances; they were soft and fuzzy on the tongue and not as sweet as I expected.
Yesterday out in the yard I wandered over to one of the largest berry bushes to have a look. There were blackened buds and wilted leaves, but also here and there, small bright red berries, and they were sweet. I started picking and discovered as I did, that deeper in, hidden in the foliage, were larger, tender berries. I reached in, gently lifted up long tendrils, and found hidden treasure underneath. Not as large as the supermarket berries but definitely fresher, both sweet and tart at the same time. The more I picked the more affinity I felt for the place, the green leaves, buzzing insects, fresh air, for the simple sense of being there in the moment, for the berry bush, and for the process itself of interaction with nature. I moved around the bush, waving at a neighbor as she passed by, spending almost an hour and a half before I knew it, and returned to the house with mounds and mounds of berries. There are still more bushes out there, and still more berries.
As I stood picking berries I had the chance to reflect and connect. It is always in nature’s moments that I connect the most clearly. How was it, I thought, that I had dismissed this gift in front of me, denigrating it as ugly, deformed, less than perfect, a failure? I was put off by what appeared to be less enticing than the commercial promise, unwilling to take the time to look deeper, and unable to appreciate the beauty, wonder, and treasure in my own space. How often, I reflected, do I do this in my life as well? What is there close to me that I am ignoring or rejecting because it is less than the ‘perfect’ product that society advertises? How often do I refuse to take more time, look more deeply, and connect more closely with those near to me? Could it be true that I am missing treasure in my own life because of my own lack of appreciation for the gifts I am offered?
Whether it is a belonging, a position, or a person, or even an aspect of our own selves, it is so easy to compare with the myriad of images continuously offered in our consumer culture. It is harder to take the time and to realize appreciation for what we have, what is already here in our own spaces. But when we do, we may be suddenly charmed, surprised by beauty, and reconnected to the treasure nearby.