April 24, 2010

Blueberry Bliss

My children and I went blueberry picking at a church in Franklin, Tennessee, last summer, and I found an unexpected surprise in the midst of a chaotic, messy out-building (in which fruit pickers leave money in a bucket to donate to the church in trade for the berries) that had a place of respite and meditation for anyone who wandered in . . . if they looked past the clutter and trash (yes, trash), and stacks of boxes. The area consisted simply of a shelf, the Apostle's Creed printed out on a piece of paper, a candle, matches, and prayers typed out to offer up to God, with a few pictures of Jesus hanging in small frames behind the shelf to offer focus to anyone who needed to have a visual of hope and promise. I, particularly, don't like looking at portrayals of Jesus, as I know they are all incorrect, so I rely on a bodily presence without features and an overall spiritual essence of who He is. Anyway, I wondered if I should use this meditation station, because I felt really drawn to it, and my kids were outside, happy just to stay and roam around the many-acred, blueberry-filled property. And let's face it, who in their right mind would want to leave the rolling acres of woods, sanctuary of the church property, and freedom to roam, even after we had picked more berries than we could ever hope to eat.

As I pondered if I should have a moment at the meditation station, I wondered if I was actually allowed to. Isn't that silly? But when a place of safety and rest is provided to us, at no cost and with no strings attached, we often feel undeserving at first, like we should hurry through the process and take "just a little", because it "really wasn't meant for us in the first place". I could have reasoned that the meditation corner was really for church members, and that I had come into a sacred place, unofficially, and uninvited . . . my only reason for being there was to pay for the berries and then exit the building. Or another way to put it would be that I had to earn or pay the price for even being allowed in the building. But I chose to allow myself the opportunity to have the experience I felt I needed. I lit the candle and became internally quiet. Then, staring at the candle, prayers flowed through my thoughts and the Apostle's Creed was quietly spoken. I felt that I was where I rightfully needed to be. Every once in a while I couldn't help but look around the large room, which encompassed a living area and kitchen, and was a little put off by the untidiness. I thought that if the church is going to offer a place of respite, then couldn't they at least work on the whole surroundings to enhance the beauty of the meditative/prayerful experience? But then I reminded myself that there is always beauty and calm to be found in the midst of chaos; there is always a place of safety in the disordered, messy, and untidy path we walk. Not sure that was the church's intention to show people, but it was what I needed to hear that afternoon nonetheless. Finally (and reluctantly, because I didn't want to leave), I blew out the candle, stacked the papers containing the Apostle's Creed and prayers, and threw away my match in the trash can to my left . . . only to see about ten or so burned out matches lying in the bottom of the trash from others before me who had come in to have their own experience of prayer and meditation. I smiled, because I had actually felt kinda alone and isolated during my experience, caught up in my thoughts and worries, and then I realized that we are all doing the same thing--bringing our attention to God, calming our souls through the words we offer Him, and finally, surrendering our chaos to Him as we end our meditative "moment" and carry on with our day. I ended up feeling not only united to God at that moment, but united to people in general--the people who seek Him--and especially those ten people who came before me with their prayers and left their burned-out match as reminder that I am not alone in my journey.

I walked past the bucket of donated berry money on my way out, noticing from the amount in it that quite a few people must have come inside the building on this day. I wondered if they had also seen the meditation spot toward the back corner, or had they felt single-minded, like they only had permission to enter, leave their offering, and exit promptly. I hoped more would linger and notice what I found, and leave not thinking of what money they had to give up, but what they could gladly leave behind (all that is surrendered in prayer) and gain (peace and welcoming).


Josie Iselin said...

Would love to have you on my contact list as we seem to have a similar takes on things...i.e. heart stones and way more.

please let me know your e-mail.

Josie Iselin


Rachel@AllergenFreePlease said...

Would you mind sharing the name of the church that you picked the blueberries at? A friend of mine told me about it and I have forgotten the name. I was googling "church with blueberries" and your post came up. If you would please email me the name to
rachelsharesjuiceplus@gmail.com, I would really appreciate it!!!!! :)