I've spent a week among the thorns, literal ones, the kind that leave long scrapes across tender legs and puffed red punctures down exposed hands and arms. Saturday, Tuesday, and today, I willingly offered my body as the sacrifice, an uneven exchange where I accepted the pain and imprint for the short-term to receive buckets overflowing with fruit in return.Working in the dewberry patch that stretches the front of our property is not as easy as picking from a well-tended bed of tame berries. This wild stretch growing beneath, through, and atop the rusted barbed wire fence already covered with other weeds requires the picker to sometimes insert an arm up to the shoulder for a single beaded globe or to stand on one leg while leaning in full-stretch against an older more-woody branch of the prickly vine.
Protecting myself from the thorns with gloves isn't an option. Many times reaching deep within the mass to a cluster, I must work based on how the berry feels within my thumb and forefinger to know if I've blindly selected the right one. If its shape gives beneath slight pressure, even if it clings firmly to the vine, it's the ripe one. If it is unyielding and firm, I move to the next one.
Spending this week before Easter Sunday getting all scratched up was not my plan. This project's timing was more God-ordained, winter's early passing bringing forth all too soon the fruit of early, even mid-summer
The fruit sets its own time for the picking, rinsing, crushing, squeezing into pure seedless juice before boiling the froth to the top. The air in today's kitchen bled with the deep memory of mother's blackberry cobbler bubbling around squares of biscuit dough she dropped in the liquid.Five recipes worth of jelly and jam later, my counter tops runneth over in abundance and gratitude for the plentiful rain making this a good crop, such a striking contrast to last year when the green berries shriveled on the vine in the parching drought.
My skin literally burned this Good Friday evening as I sank into a hot soak, stinging heat raising the invisible whelps I knew to be there but hadn't viewed in their most raw state.I am not worthy to bear the marks of the thorns. I know that. But I will wear them anyway to Easter service, humbled by their ability to keep my focus tight on my Savior this week, humbled by the lessons their presence has continued teaching me of Christ and His sacrifice, of the pain He endured, of Him as our firstfruits.
The weatherman may say otherwise, but I know differently. God's timing is ever perfect.
Photos: Dewberries before and after the juicing, oldest son counting out the right number of canning rings, and my daughter's battle scars.