I heard the call, the call to blueberry picking. To the familiar I drove, to the blueberry patch beside Hidden Springs Creek that lies empty most of the year, empty until the rain comes and it overflows, overflows probably into the blueberry patch.
I’d met the granddaughter of the man who’d planted the blueberry bushes at the Farmers Market a few years ago. With warm smiles, she directed me to her farm, where the blueberry bushes looked more like an orchard than a patch, grown deep in a holler, where the pavement spent itself out to gravel and dirt, and the blueberry bushes grew deep, wide and tall.
My husband thought I was a bit crazy in the driving of us there in the height of the blueberry season this year. Gone were the blueberry sign, the friendly lady in the sales shack, the outhouse with red and white checkered curtains, and the water sprinklers. The blueberry bushes stood lonely, abandoned, lost . . . the invitation wasn’t there’s to give nor were their berries ours to pick. Not right now. Not this time.
I wanted to just burst in – to pick anyway – those blueberry bushes needed it.
“Not the right time ,”said the voice inside me. The voice outside me (my husband) – told me to just drive away.
Relieved and reprieved was the boys’ response. Sometimes you have to pull – no – drag them to the places like Cades Cove, down waterfall trails and inside blueberry patches.
The call to pick blueberries didn’t stop. As a matter of fact, it was as loud as ever – all the way from my mind, to my heart to my tummy.
Why is it, though, I default to the familiar when I get these calls? Like the empty Hidden Springs and their adjacent blueberry patch?
The call can lead to things as small as blueberries or as big as a soul needing saving.
Sometimes, though, I have to pull sharply, reign myself in, away from my will of good intentions, halting my mind from defaulting to the familiar.
How can it be wrong to pick a little blueberry summertime to pull out in the winter? How can it be wrong to reach out to a seeming prodigal and save a soul?
But it can – be wrong – if you’re in the wrong place, at the wrong time – and it isn’t your field to pick.
The call sometimes starts with a spiritual bivouac – getting all the equipment in place for training or a maneuver – in the optimal place from which to work. Where you need to be isn’t always in the familiar.
That Saturday afternoon, inbetween the incessant storms was the best time, the only time. The timing wasn’t right. Neither was the place. I was blueberry-less.
I wasn’t going to find what I needed in the familiar. Sigh! Exasperation! Disappointed – deeply disappointed. Just a blueberry-reach away from a full bucket!
A week later, early morning at the Farmer’s Market, I met another blueberry lady. Saturday Morning at the Farmer’s Market is date morning for my husband and I. I needed 32 cups of blueberries. I didn’t just want to buy them. I wanted to pick them – with my husband and my boys. There’s something to be gained in the picking of blueberries where you gather more than blueberries.
We talked and laughed with the blueberry lady – moving from unfamiliar to familiar over blueberries. We left with enough for some Blue Cotton Crunch – and an invitation to pick blueberries at their farm Sunday after church.
The boys moaned at the opportunity, not seeing there was more to blueberry picking than filling buckets. My husband said the timing was right – we’d go.
I remember the summer my husband and I became engaged – he in one town, me in the other. Every morning, I waited on the porch swing before work, waited for the mail-man to deliver the mail, waiting for a letter from my sweetheart.
That’s how I felt about Sunday after church – waiting to discover that message, that love letter from my savior – in the blueberry patch.
All because I was willing to step out of the familiar.
Deep in the blueberries, I found the message – a Salvation message. Won’t you join me next Monday for that message?