Abundance is like this.
My brother and sister-in-law bought the house next to us, built in the 70s. The original owners had a garden. It’s been abandoned for decades, but there are remnants from it: a squat, disappointing apple tree; a tree that bears a single fig in late June; the most magnificently woody, overgrown rosemary bush that flowers purple in February; and four tall, spindly blueberry bushes that each have big red mounds of Georgia clay swarming with fire-ants at the bases.
Every year, the children and I ask their uncle and aunt, “Can we pick your blueberries?”
And every year, the answer is the same: “Of course, if there’s any left that the birds didn’t get. Just split them 50/50 with us. We don’t expect there’s much.”
So we didn’t expect there to be much either.
On our meandering walks up the road, hunting for berries in June and July, we watch the blueberries come in, we get excited and pick some too early. The littlest girl screws her face up when she eats them, they’re so sour. A typical July gets so busy between vacations and fireworks, we miss their peak season. The last two years, we’ve gotten maybe a pint or so, between the two households. We didn't expect much.
This year, we decided: this is it, the year we get all the blueberries. We’ve been so attentive to the changing nature outside our windows during quarantine, we knew the signs, we kept watch. It was blueberry time.
We load up with gallon buckets and step stools and bug spray. I drag the big boys with me. Teetering on stools as the yard slopes toward the pond, their heads invisible in between the slender, green branches, they cheer in delight: “Mom, there are so many blueberries. Hand me that bucket please. Can you pull that branch a little closer? I think I can get more. Can I eat some now?”
An hour later, we’re still picking, still exultant and itchy and sweating.
The middle son, the empath, takes a deep, slow breath and sighs it out, “Mommy, looking for these little pops of blue against the shades of green, it’s like this whole other part of my brain is lighting up. I’m just looking for this pattern: green green blue pick, green green blue pick. I think I was made for this: growing good things."
We fill the gallon bucket once, then once again. I make the older boys deliver their uncle and aunt’s share of washed berries. I get a text: “Good haul today. I didn’t know that our yard had that many.”
The kids eat their fill and still we have more in the freezer. All this from blueberry bushes that we didn’t expect much of anything from.
God’s abundance is like this: all around us there are moments, relationships, challenges, and opportunities just waiting to be engaged. In every season, there are graces, energy, time, resources, and insights maturing and ripe for the harvest. We just have to take the time to notice what’s in season for us.
Noticing starts with gratitude. Eyes to the earth, foraging for the goodness in front of us, trusting that there will be something, even if it's not what we wanted or expected. Abundance is different with every season.
The littlest girl and I walked up to the blueberry bushes last week, out of habit. "Mama, the blueberries are gone. Their season is over and I am sad."
"Seasons always change, little sister. It's natural to be sad when they do, but there's always something for us in each season: there aren't blueberries anymore, but they'll come again. Right now, the hummingbirds are drinking from the jewelweed by the pond. And the barn spiders, like Charlotte, are out weaving their impossible webs. Let's go find some."
What’s in-season for you right now might not look like much, it might not be the harvest you wanted, it might not even be from seeds you intentionally cultivated, it probably has some fire-ant hills at the base intimidating you, but if you have the right eyes to see, the right determination, and lean in hard to the tight window: the outcomes and harvest, the beauty and graces, well, they just might surprise you.