September has been glorious – a gentle apology for the damp misery of August.
The garden has rewarded our neglect – brambles have sprung up everywhere in our borders, and with them plump droplets of blackberries, ripe for the picking.
At the weekend, I lay on my sun-lounger and pulled a spiky branch towards the boy.
“I’m going to find the best ones and pick them for dinner!” he said. He pulled the first one off in his hand, and the juice tricked down his thumb. “Except that I might eat them first.”
I smiled my assent, and he popped it into his mouth.
“This one will be really good,” he said, handing one for me. It was still warm from the sun, and so sweet.
“Isn’t this amazing?” I said to the boy. “It’s like we have a sweet shop in our garden, and we can help ourselves.”
At that moment, I thought of Eden. There is such a primitive joy in gathering food for ourselves freely, and I wondered if my mind had touched upon a collective memory of that first garden, where the fruit was abundant and free for the taking. Did Adam and Eve similarly celebrate in those early hours, as they ran around the garden, eating whatever they wanted?
I reached over for a hidden black pearl on a far branch, and felt a scratch on my stomach. As I looked down, I laughed. The thorns had embedded themselves in my T-shirt, and the branch was pulling the material away from my body.
“The branch has eaten you!” the boy said, and I carefully untangled the bramble’s tiny teeth from my T-shirt. One of the thorns went deep into my finger, and I wiped the tiniest spot of blood. The red blood had intermingled with purple blackberry juice, so that the two were almost indistinguishable. The thorns and fruit run alongside each other: blood and juice; curse and joy.
In this life, we constantly walk the faultline of Creation and Fall: the joy of the good; the frustration of our many limitations.
Life is both fruit and fight.
This is the way it is, I realised. Even the act of picking blackberries carries that Edenic faultline within it. We took such pleasure in picking our own fruit, and yet if we had to do this as a full-time job, it would become a chore. I imagined us as fruit pickers, at work in the fields all day, and I could see the sweat, and feel the ache and weariness.
I thought, too, of writing, art, food preparation, making music, writing sermons. So many of our most beloved creative pursuits can change in an instant from joy to curse. Whenever we are obligated or forced to do something, it loses its sheen. We were not meant to be productive robots, endlessly working, endlessly churning out the same things. We were made to be like the birds, flitting from one tree to another, enjoying the fruits as we found them.
There are so many things I ‘should’ be writing today. It is easy to get sucked into the frenetic pace of the newspapers and super-bloggers, but I am not built for that pace. Sometimes we need to learn from the birds and the blackberries.
Today I write this, not because I am obliged, but because I am free. I write because I can, not because I should. I write for the sheer pleasure of writing. I taste once again the sweetness of the fruit.
[tweetit]”In this life, we constantly walk the faultline of Creation and Fall” – @Tanya_Marlow – Blackberries in Eden [/tweetit]
[tweetit]”Life is both fruit and fight.” – @Tanya_Marlow – Blackberries in Eden [/tweetit]
[tweetit]”Sometimes we need to learn from the birds and the blackberries.” – @Tanya_Marlow – Blackberries in Eden [/tweetit]
[tweetit]”We were not meant to be productive robots” – @Tanya_Marlow – Blackberries in Eden [/tweetit]
[tweetit]”I write because I can, not because I should.” – @Tanya_Marlow – Blackberries in Eden [/tweetit]
Over to you:
- When do you experience those moments of being back in Eden, tasting the fruit for the first time?
- Which are you most aware of at the moment – the frustration of the Fall, or the goodness of Creation? Thorns or blackberries?