Not quite ripe


“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if He wants anything of you, He will lift you for the work and give you strength.”
—Philip Neri

“STOP!!!” My husband slams on the brakes. “What is it??!!” “The blackberries, look at those!! I need to pick them…I can make a pie….I can make YOU a pie” I added that at the end to entice him into affording me some time to get out and pick the ripening blackberries.

“Do you realize we are in the middle of an overgrown section of this property that is infested with ticks, red bugs as well as snakes?? And you want to get out and trudge through that thicket picking berries?? You’re wearing sandals for heaven’s sake! I think not—plus do you know how many you’d need for a pie? More than are on that vine”…and he starts driving again.

He has some property in central west Georgia—an overgrown piece of land that is “recreational”–meaning it’s good to hunt, fish….and that’s about it. I do enjoy taking the Four wheeler or golf cart and simply riding over the trails—overgrown goat trails is more like it. This time of year can prove a bit hazardous if one dares to get off of the Four Wheeler….especially as I was not dressed to do so in the required long pants and boots. The whole snake thing gave me pause to reconsider the whole pie thing.

And anyway, the berries were not all ripe I reasoned with myself. As badly as I hate to admit it, it would take forever for me to forage for enough ripe berries. The place was just too overgrown for me to go rambling through the brambles… least things were “ripe” for picture taking….I had not come prepared nor dressed properly to pick blackberries–there would surly have been consequences had I stubbornly forged ahead with my impulsive and rather reckless desire.

Philip Neri, who today’s quote derives, was a man who lived life rather impulsively but with good results and a driven intent. He lived in Rome during the mid 1500’s. He had experienced a profound conversion when he was a teen, dedicating the remainder of his life to serving God. He did so, however, lightheartedly and always with joy. His teaching ways were often a bit unorthodox as he found humor to be the better teacher.

Brother Neri did not allow himself, or others, to take themselves too seriously. If one was overtly consumed by how he or she was perceived by others and was constantly concerned with the appearance of self, then how did that benefit God and the teaching of the Gospel? He constantly reminded his followers and fellow man that ones’ outward living of life should not be taken so seriously and if that focus remained on self and the empty worry of the perception of others, rather than offering humility before God, then the attempted virtuous life was all for naught. If one was too concerned with what others thought, then surly there was no room for what God thought.

Despite often taking the unorthodox road in his teachings and life examples, his faith and his relationship with God the Father, through prayer, was always taken seriously. He was known to often withdraw to the catacombs alone for prayer, having even lived life as a hermit for quite some time. His joy in living, he was convinced, was just one more way of praising God.

I am very guilty of often taking myself too seriously. It does me good to be reminded that humility, and the road to learning this virtue, is often by way of letting go of self and of the seriousness of self. To me, this can be a painful experience. Learning not to care so much about what others think or how my image may be perceived—a tough task. I need to focus more on my relationship with God, giving little to no regard as to how that may look to others because all that matters, in the long run, is what is between me and God—He has a great deal of work to do within me—sometimes that work is not easy and can be painful—but no matter—the end result will be most sweet—

So on this new morning to a brand new week—be not concerned nor consumed with what the world thinks of you but rather with the thoughts and concerns of your Heavenly Father—-how to best serve Him—because in the long run—His opinion and thoughts will be all that matters as all this other stuff will simply pass away…here is to humility!! Just know that I’m working my way there, stumbling along the way, with you!!