I stood on a steep, wooded trail eating raspberries by the handful. In that moment I was only my outstretched arm, greedy fingers prying plump berries from large clusters. I was eyes trained on the color red hiding beneath green leaves; I was only a gaping mouth, consuming.
Eventually my eyes lifted and I realized the berries covered the mountainside – I could never eat them all. Then I slowed and began to taste again, the abundance, the red juice a communion connecting me again to the grace and mercy that dwells among us.
This morning I took my kids hiking. We walked around the edges of soybean fields, through cool shaded woods. All along the trail berries hung, bright jewels singing their siren songs of sweetness. Again we were all arms, reaching, grabbing, mouths consuming.
Isaiah dove into the woods like a hound on the hunt, throwing poison ivy caution to the wind. Finally, satisfied, he lifted his shirt and rubbed his soft, round belly, “Me full, Mommy.”
After lunch (fresh berries on yogurt) we ended up in the garden. We clambered about, hunter gatherers careful to keep our feet from the vines and leaves. The garden is a sea of green layered on top of green and our eyes played tricks on us – how to tell the green of a cucumber from its vine, the dark emerald of a melon from the leaf that shades it. Cucumbers hid, giant ones nestled in among the zucchini bushes. The harvest was too great for five pairs of hands to bear, so we filled the red wagon and pulled it up to the house.
Wherever Jesus shows up in the Bible, there is abundance – great vats of wine that refuse to run out, bread that rises to the occasion of feeding a crowd, catches of fish that nearly sink the boats. I am not a fisherman and the bread we took to the lake last night to feed the ducks lasted about as long as I thought it should. But right now there’s a strainer of blood-red raspberries in my kitchen sink and somehow I know that grace and mercy dwell still in the woods, the garden, in the abundance of the earth giving and giving, as it does.