Sunday, June 5, 2016
Finding God in the Strawberry Patch
I like to go the first day picking starts because the strawberries are abundant on the vine and I can fill my box quickly. As the season progresses, the ripe berries aren't as clustered as in the beginning and it can take almost double the time to pick.
Venturing to the fields for opening day, I found the berries big and almost burgundy in color - and they filled the bushes. And thus begins my day of worship.
Worship? Yes, I regard the time I spend picking strawberries as a time of worship. From an opening prayer of thanksgiving and music to a closing benediction, I watch for elements one might find in a typical Sunday liturgy and find God throughout my time in the strawberry patch.
I begin by giving thanks for health, energy and mobility to stoop low to the ground, and reach across the row to find ripe berries hidden under the leaves of larger plants.
When I go to the fields, I'm assigned a row or "pew" marked by a fluorescent pink flag. The row is "all mine" for the duration of the time I pick.
Music for the day comes from birds who chirp and sing continuously. The clickety-clack of a train that is part of a grain elevator operation a mile away sounds periodically as I pick.
Music also comes from the chatter of adults and children who interact with excitement. I usually hear parents caution, "If the berry is white, don't pick it. Find a bright red one!" Children offer squeals of excitement when they discover a strawberry, "I see one! I found a bright, red one!"
The offering has an interesting twist as I take something from the patch rather than bringing something to the basket that is passed up and down the rows each Sunday. I offer thanks for receiving a part of the bounty of God's creation.
The benediction when I finish begins when my berries are weighed, I pay, load the bulging box into my trunk and take one more look over the fields of God's abundance - a picture of God's goodness.
Worship can occur any place if you open your heart and stay aware of God's presence - even in the strawberry patch.
Reflection Question: As you travel this summer or explore places close to home, where can you experience worship in a non-traditional setting?
Prayer: God, in your generosity you offer more places to worship you and sense your presence than in a church building. Thank you for the ways you provide prayer, music, other people, an offering and benediction - a common outline for worship in unlikely places like a strawberry patch. Amen.