The Hard Work of Preserving

The strawberries always catch me by surprise. It's the same every year - early June, my ambitious friends are on the ball and everyone is talking strawberries. I have this annual thought - here we go -  and I know it means that picking season and canning season and sticky floors and ibuprofen are upon us.

And I love the berries - I am just always late to the game, rushing to pick before they're all gone and then rushing to preserve the goodness before it's all smooshed and moldy.

Strawberries are the harbinger of summer, and they're always here before I know it.

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This year they seemed ripe earlier than normal - the last week of May the signs were out and the ruby-fruit made her appearance in my Facebook feed.

We found an open window-of-opportunity this week and crawled our way through to the farm where we picked and picked and picked almost 55 pounds of summer.

The four kids and I spent an hour hunched over bushes loaded with berries and filled our buckets 3 times. Then we each donated an organ to pay the total - because you may not actually save a dime picking your own berries, but it's tradition. It's just what we do.

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Picking strawberries with my four children, laughing at corny jokes, enjoying the right amounts of nature and quiet and togetherness and solitude - I remembered how hard this used to be.

I remembered strollers tipping over and babies napping sweatily and toddlers squishing berries and eating bugs.

I flashed to changing diapers in the back of the van, between rows of people picking their petite little buckets of berries because they were just going to have some to eat fresh, or maybe make one batch of jam. How cute.

I thought of the ways I killed myself to store away summer in the pantry and the freezer, and how it was the same every year - by December, summer was forgotten.

Whenever I try to stop time and preserve it, I always feel like there is just not enough; like the pressure to make perfect memories, and make them last, detracts from the moment itself.

I enjoyed myself this time. I enjoyed my kids. I looked back just to remember and appreciate and I cherished the Right Now, because so much of it whooshes by without notice or appreciation.

I don't want to spend so much time looking back for good memories, hoping something was preserved; but sometimes looking back helps me be content with today.

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So teach us to number our days,

That we may gain a heart of wisdom." ~ Psalm 90:12

I've been thinking a lot about accepting my part of the responsibility for failures, and talking with my kids about that. We are trying, trying, to shake hands on our disagreements, own up to our short-comings, and do the hard work of preserving relationships.

I want to put a stake in the ground and claim today as the best moment to live in and to live in it well, for the glory of God and the good of His people. There are things we need to reconcile immediately, in order to look ahead hopefully and look back peacefully.

That has little to do with strawberries, but you can connect your own dots.

Preserving food is good. Preserving memories is good. The only lasting thing - eternal and life-giving and commanded by Christ - is love.

I'm working on love, and enjoying these people today.

 sharing this post with Unforced Rhythms