I made a pilgrimage for the second time this week to the strawberry patch. I picked twenty-six pounds of berries today and ten pounds Tuesday. Tuesday I made jam and froze what remained.
I always go by myself to the farm because I sense God's presence when I pick. I want my heart clear of distractions. When I am assigned a row marked by a plastic neon pink flag, a rhythm flows from my heart to my hands to the berries to God. I look for the ripest strawberries which can range from bright red to burgundy. Some of the plants still have flowers, waiting to mold into a berry. Other berries are half red and half white needing more time in the sun.
Sometimes the straw carpeting between the rows finds its way into the rectangular box I push along the row. Seeping juice quickly stains my hands red with each berry I pick. I feel the wind against my facing moving in the wide open fields, the deep blue sky providing a cap overhead.
The fields today were filled with women and young children. I spoke with the toddler in the row next to me who began picking, but was quickly plopped into her stroller since she kept eating berries. Who could resist a bright juicy strawberry?
Her mother and another woman were talking loudly about the mother desiring a job to raise money for another adoption. The dialogue continued about the expenses involved and the mound of paperwork. The other woman, unrelated to the family, said she would find another job to help raise money. The mother appreciated her generosity and lamented the complexities of local adoption.
Hearing the pain of the mother longing for another child, worried about the expense, reminded me of many others I know who endure infertility. I wish all women who wanted children could have them.
I finished the row, my box filled to a peak, all the while praying for this mother - a benediction to close out my time in the strawberry patch.