I loaded three cartons of eggs and three ice blocks into our straight-out-of-the-eighties rolling cooler this morning. We inherited the cooler from a friend because she didn’t need it anymore and we didn’t want to spend $20 on a cooler for eggs that might not sell. Once the eggs were tucked in, I hauled the cooler out the front door to the little farm stand in front of our house.
My husband built the stand, out of an old door and leftover lumber, at the end of June and we've kept it stocked with garden surplus ever since. The hope was to keep from wasting the abundance of our little corner of Eden and make some spare change in the process. We live on a fairly busy state road and I thought a farm stand would do well here.
This morning I was surprised to find a dollar sealed inside a plastic bag at the stand. I had left the Ziploc bag there with instructions for anyone who bought cherry tomatoes to “leave the container,” implying (I thought) they could use the bag to corral the tomatoes. But someone bought tomatoes and left the money – a crisp dollar bill – in the bag instead.
I'm happy to report that this new development doubled our year-to-date farm stand income. That’s right, doubled it. As in, we've made two dollars over the course of a month. I quickly sent my husband a text with the heady news and started dreaming of a spending spree . . .
But I did feel a small spark of hope, which is no small thing when most days I feel like abandoning the stand completely.
A few weeks back a woman stopped by the house unannounced and asked whether the stand itself was for sale – she thought it quite clever and said it would look amazing standing outside her store. I told her no, the stand isn’t for sale, but took her number saying my husband could build her one of her own.
We’ve yet to call her back, but in the weeks since her visit I’ve done the math - we could surely make more by selling the stand itself than we hope to make keeping it stocked by the road all summer long. I thought about that math this morning as I loaded the eggs. Maybe we should just be done.
But then there was the dollar and when I came inside carrying the overripe zucchini that didn’t sell, the tomatoes that aged beyond use in the carton, I found myself sorting more tomatoes for the stand and wondering what else I could set out. Even now, I want to go cut fresh Zinnia bouquets to sell and gather some of our just-picked violet potatoes into a carton too.
I feel foolish most days, tending the stand while cars speed by. There is, for me, a naked vulnerability in selling things along-side the road. And, minor income aside, that’s why I persist in doing it.
When I become aware of feeling foolish and vulnerable my tendency is to want to draw back and hide. I'm not much of a risk taker by nature, not much of a let's-see-what-happens kinda gal. But lately, when I feel foolish, some wisdom inside me awakens.
"Ah," wisdom says, "what's this?"
"I don't want to cut flowers that won't sell, don't want to pack and haul eggs fifty feet to sit all day by the side of the road," I snap.
"Why?" wisdom asks, curious and eager.
"It feels too much like waiting to be picked in gym class," I say, "I don't like the risk, the uncontrolled exposure. I feel foolish."
"Oh, now that's good," wisdom says, fully awake now and delighted with my predicament, "that's something we can work with."
I don't want to listen, but curious now, I do.
"This stand is giving you something invaluable," wisdom continues after a moment of thought, "the opportunity to feel foolish."
What wisdom knows is that things like hope and faithfulness often feel foolish. They aren't, but they feel that way quite often. By practicing the ability to endure negative sensations, like foolishness or vulnerability, we forge a deep resilience that can translate to other areas of our lives as well, areas where the risk and reward are much greater.
Somehow I know that voice is right. I load the eggs, cut my lovely flowers, gather the red and orange tomatoes and offer them to the world. Not because I want to get rich, but because I want to be enriched.
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Author, Shawn Smucker and I are offering a one-day retreat this coming October 15 in Carlisle, PA. Titled, Writing As Witness, we will explore the ways writing can position us to witness the presence of God in our own lives and in the world. Visit link to learn more.
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Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.
What if we chose to deliberately look for small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?
That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days. You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder. Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.
While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment. Thanks for being part of our community!