An Abundance of Raspberries

It’s canning season at this house. Black raspberry jam is the best part of canning season. As I picked (and picked and picked) these dark, tart beauties, I thought a lot about the biblical notion of first fruits. The black raspberries gave me a slightly different perspective on this whole conversation.

The first black raspberries are the ones that get me most excited.  I’m eager to pick, dreaming of the black raspberry jam they’ll make.  The first berries seem the biggest and the juiciest. As I harvest, I get a little greedy.  Early in the season, I’m not keen on sharing the berries while I get overzealous on what I want to make with the berries (this year — canned whole berries in addition to the jam).

As I continue harvesting berries as the season goes on, I get tired and oh-so-over the picking of berries (no matter how good the black raspberry jam is). The berries get sweeter as the season goes, but even as they get sweeter, I’m less excited about them.

By the tail end of the season, I’m happy for anyone else to come pick berries and take them home with them. I concede defeat to the wasps, Japanese beetles, and mosquitoes. They want the fruit that bad?  Well, they can have it then.  Only please stop flying at my head. Oh, and I’m so done with getting stabbed by thorns.

I’m happy to share the raspberries at that point.  But, I’m not sure that I can call that generous. I’m tired of battling nature, but don’t want great fruit to go to waste.

And I realized my attitude about sharing black raspberries might not be limited to how I see these fruits, but also about how I see other things that I have.

In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 26 in particular, sometimes the notion of first fruits is used to get at the notion of stewardship (a fancy word to describe how all that we have comes from God, so we are managers rather than owners).

A more poetic way to put it comes from Audrey Assad’s song “Everything Is Yours.”

When all the world is blossoming
When everything around is bursting into life
And I don’t have to strain to hear the beat of your heart

When all the world is under fire
And the skies are threatening to thunder and rain
And I am overcome by fears that I can’t see

If everything is Yours,
Everything is Yours
If everything is Yours,
I’m letting it go,
It was never mine to hold.

Moses is trying to prepare the Israelites before they head into the land of Canaan.  He commands then to take some of the first fruits that they harvest from the land God is giving to them, and to return that bounty to God.  In the offering, they are to recall their story and how God has been gracious to them and that God is the source of their bounty. God is the one that rescued them from slavery, and brought them into this new land of abundance.  This offering is a way to rejoice in the abundance of the good things that God has given (Deuteronomy 26:1-11).

I planted the black raspberries about five years ago.  (And by “I planted,” I mean that I picked them up at the garden store, and J actually stuck them in the ground.  That’s how we roll round these parts.)

Other than the first day, I haven’t watered, weeded, or fertilized these canes. Nor have I done much pruning.  They produce an increasing bounty each year with an utter lack of effort on my part.  The fruit they yield is a gift.  And yet I often forget to be grateful for that yield as I get busy being greedy with what I’ll produce or feel resentful about the work of harvesting.

Jam isn’t coin that can be given literally back to God through the offering plate at church.  Though that would be hilarious.  But, I can share it with others. (And attempt to be a cheerful giver!)

Oddly enough, when I’m willing to share the first fruits of my harvest, others’ excitement fuels mine. When I first make jam, I hate sharing it. I think of the scarcity of the amount of jam. Will it last all year?

I am stingy with what I give out to others. Early on, it’s a little sad to give away some of my jam hoard.  I feel like a dragon keeping count of my gold.

At the end of the year, once it’s time for the next season’s canning, I’m eager to give away (or sell jam at a garage sale) to make room for the new goods. That’s not generosity, so much as practicality.

But, when I share jam — as hostess presents, as Christmas gifts, as a pick-me-up for a friend who’s having a craptastic day — I get delighted by others’ enjoyment.  I’m doubly grateful for the harvest from my yard, and ready to work again the next year for more jam. Joy shared is multiplied.

I wonder about changing my mentality from a scarcity perspective to one of abundance.  I’d like to stop with hoarding mentality — not to the point of giving away all the jam as soon as I make it.  That’s not wise either. I’d like to shift my perspective away from the fear of not having enough to trusting that there will also be more jam to make the next year.

And I think that confidence might bear some fruit in more than one aspect of my life — lest you think that I’m only talking about jam and raspberries here. The attitude about jam and raspberries makes me wonder more about bigger realities.

What if I shared more out of the best that I am and have and less out of the leftover dregs?

So, how about you?  Where do you find yourself living out of a scarcity mindset rather than a grateful one?  What might change for you if that perspective shifted?


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