Image: Flickr, here
Stories around food are often portals to holiness. One of the best things about living in a place that enables contact between people who cultivate and/or make food, and those who feast on the fruits of this work, is the access we have to this beautiful ecology of relations: nature, food, stories, people.
We need to be re-membered in our communities. This Jesus knew. We need both food and stories for proper nourishment. To participate fully and to enjoy both we need time and attention.
“Blessed are you, God of All Creation . . . Through your Goodness, we have these gifts to offer, which Earth has given & human hands have made.”
These things were on my mind as I wistfully scooped blueberries into my bowl this morning. An enormous box of blueberries arrived last week, fresh-picked from the garden of an unmet friend. A wonderful surprise it was and cause for great celebration! Jam-making ensued almost immediately; there was sharing and freezing and a sizeable container is refrigerated from which handfuls of the dark, sweet spheres of simple pleasure are daily enjoyed.
The blueberries, abundant harvest of our Unmet Friend, he calls ‘my mother’s gift’. I’m told his mother was a devout Christian. I’m never quite sure of how people mean this and so I tend to wait for the meaning to emerge and take shape as the story progresses. Here, though, to be so named is to have chosen a path that is not so dissimilar, I imagine, to that chosen by members of the earliest of Christian communities. With less than 1% of the Japanese Christian, it goes without saying that you stand out; you become what theologians call a ‘resident alien‘. It can be a costly commitment. When I hear people so labelled here I often feel something quietly heroic and bitter-sweet.
My morning berries are coloured by these stories. Their texture and taste are tender and sweet. They have an air about them that causes me to dream of the lady who planted the bushes, who lived alone in a big house and enjoyed the solace of classical music and kept the faith and planted fruit trees because fruit in its season was something you could share with your neighbours. The bushes had not reached maturity by the time she went Home to God, their yields not nearly as bountiful as they are now, but her spirit lives on in her son’s generosity.
I gratefully receive her soft, sweet indigo blessing.
I am glad to be among her neighbours.