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The Tale of the Blackberries

By the Revd Canon Cate Edmonds

I have to confess to being a bit of a scavenger, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to pick fruits and berries etc when I’m out walking, possibly it’s because it costs me nothing! But I like to make them into a variety of preserves which I can then give to friends and family. I think it is my way of sharing the abundance of God’s creation. This time of the year of course it’s the time for blackberries. I like to pick them when I’m walking my dogs and often pick, with the help of my husband, large amounts which I make into bramble jelly and blackberry and apple crumbles and pies.

This year however it is different; there seem to be far less good berries to pick so far. Most of our usual bushes have fruit, but they are small and dried up, I suppose this is the result of the heat wave just as they were forming. The lack of water and extreme heat has made them shrivel up. They have failed to grown into their true juicy stage. In fact to blossom into what they were intended to be has not taken place because something was missing, the water of life, and when a change occurred and something unusual happened, extreme heat, they were not able to cope.

This has made me reflect on our own spiritual development. In order for each of us to grow into the people God intended us to be we need to be constantly nourished, regularly watered with the Holy Spirit. Remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well? Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

Being denied our usual forms of worship has felt for many of us like a drought, we may have felt spiritually dried up at times. Now that there is a slight release from the constraints of lockdown this may be of some relief and we may well feel that we are starting to be watered once more. We are however still able to drink of Christ’s water by our personal prayer life and regular reading of the scriptures. If we drink deeply of the water of life which we receive from Christ we are able to cope when adverse weather comes, we are able to cope when the extremes of life hit us.

When I look at the shrivelled blackberries it makes me realise that I must work hard not to become shrivelled and dried up in my faith and seek to be regularly watered so that I can continue to cope when adversity, be it minor or major, hits. The humble blackberry has taught me a lesson, it’s amazing what nature can teach us if we stop and appreciate it.