seeking and hiding

“In moments of exaltation one expressed sentiments that outstripped
one’s spiritual capabilities by a vast span; and she knew well that
unless God is sought for Himself alone, with a selflessness
of which she was at present incapable,
He is not to be found.”

― Elizabeth Goudge


(wild blackberries are ripening deep in the Georgia woods / Julie Cook / 2017)


(the ripening blueberries bushes out back in the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

I go to great lengths when it comes to seeking out, and subsequently picking,
those glistening seasonal black and blue ripening gems…
those succulent orbs and globes of juicy blueberries and now
the incoming crop of wild blackberries.

I have been known to go to near daredevil feats in order to fill a basket, bowl or bag
with these precious little beauties.
I have braved chiggers, ticks, snakes…as well as bleeding to death due to digging deep
into the proverbial briar patch.

This obsessiveness over berry picking worries my husband.

He seems to believe that I do not possess the gift of lithe or grace when it comes to say,
walking…let alone standing on my head while reaching deep into a thicket of the unknown
in search of the elusive black or blue jewel.

I think it comes down to the fact that he’s going to hold that broken ankle business
against me for the rest of my non broken life.
It wasn’t my fault I fell in a drain hole while putting out the pine straw that spring…
a hole he’d dug out just days prior and failed to fill back in before I stepped in it.

So when I must balance on a narrow brick wall,
while leaning over as far as I can with one foot planted on the ledge while
the other leg is sticking straight out behind me in some sort of yoga like pose…
all the while as I’m reaching as far as I can
without face planting into a mass jumble of branches,
fruit and leaves…
well, I don’t know what the fuss and worry is all about.

I mean, I watch for the snakes, bees and ants.
I try my best not to fall, really I do.
I can’t help that I’ll be covered with red whelps the following day that will itch like
nobody’s business…
I can’t help that I scream the word “STOP!!” when we’re happily and quietly driving down
a road in the middle of nowhere when I suddenly spot a lovely ripening bramble bush
along the side of said deserted road… beckoning to be picked.
He likes the pies and cobblers…so what’s all the the big worry???

So naturally while I was reaching and digging deep buried up to my elbows in stickers,
all during the throws of my berry seeking session yesterday,
oh so busy about the task of finding and picking…
I was stuck by a startlingly similarity between my hyper focused quest in seeking
the elusive hiding fruits—the object of an almost obsessive determination, and
the lengths to which I know God goes when He wants, nay yearns, to seek out and
eventually find….us….

As we have the tendency to hide, always painstakingly out of arms reach…and
yet a loving God painstakingly seeks his own…
for He will go to even much greater and even more daring lengths in His quest for us
than dare say I do over a mere berry….

And boy how grateful I am that He does!

I will seek that which was lost,
and bring again that which was driven away,
and will bind up that which was broken,
and will strengthen that which was sick:
but I will destroy the fat and the strong;
I will feed them with judgment.

Ezekiel 34:16

Beauty in the details

“The beauty of the natural world lies in the details.”
— Natalie Angier

Once the vibrant colorful leaves of Autumn give way to the dismal browns and grays of winter’s decay. . .as the leaves gently fall, or are more aptly blown away, from the trees and bushes by the great winds of the north— Mother Nature begins to reveal a few of her little secrets.

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Just when we begin settling into thinking the visual wonders and colorful overloads of the previous seasons have come and gone, leaving us visually empty and hungry as we prepare to live in a world of muted tones, we are kindly offered a tasty little morsel or two of her visual surprises.

It may be when we dash outside in order to gather a couple of sticks of wood for the fire that we delightfully discover who, or better yet what, has lived within the cover of the leaves– tucked deep within and protected behind the multiple layers of branches surprisingly under our very noses without so much as the first inkling of existence—be it a bird, a fox, a rabbit. . .

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There is a thorny mound of a bush just off to the side of the driveway. Originally the mound started out as three little crimson leaved barberry bushes. Given the very nature of a barberry bush, the concept of pruning and maintaining becomes quite a tricky sticky business—-which in turn makes a barberry an ideal “home” for an adept little creature—in this case, a small wren.

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Whenever I have to tend to or with the barberry “bush”, I always fondly recall the children’s classic story by the southern author Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus. Say what you wish about the book, the stories, the author— I have always found the book a classic tale intertwined to and with a time long ago as it possesses a delightful innocence of folklore and imagination—a post Civil War Aesop’s fable of the American South…nothing more, nothing less.

Brer Rabbit, finding himself in the company of his nemesis Brer Fox, avoids an untimely demise, once again, by begging not to be flung into the briar patch–“do anything but throw me into the briar patch” Brer Rabbit begs—upon which Brer Fox flings Brer Rabbit into the briars. It wasn’t until I was an adult, tangling with my own “briar patch” that I understood the sage logic of Brer Rabbit.

And it appears that the wrens, as well as the mockingbirds and the blue jays also understand the logic of Brer Rabbit. . .

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(images of a wren’s nest in the barberry bush in Julie’s yard / 2013)