Answer with Joy

Winterberry Holly

This weekend, I could not help my fascination with winterberry holly.  I love how vibrant the berries appear against a drab late-autumn landscape.  Those berries challenge their depressing surroundings with a hallelujah of red. 

Thorny Cages

They rise out of treacherous, thorny cages of leaves. 

They nourish entire populations of birds–over 48 species.  Even small mammals depend on these luscious berries to sustain them through the bitter winter. 

Let me rise out of thorns, answer with joy whatever dark background hovers about, and nourish those around me.  

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When “Plan A” Fails

Green Tomatoes Before the Frost

We hear that a frost will come this week.  It seems so tragic:  dozens of beautiful tomatoes that never had a chance to ripen. 

But all is not lost.  As novice gardeners, we take advice from a master gardener in our community.  She tells us to harvest our green tomatoes, wrap them in newspaper, and tuck them away in a closet.  In several weeks, we’ll have a bounty of luscious, deep red tomatoes. 

I’ve never ripened tomatoes this way.  It seems unusual and unnatural.  It’s an entirely different means to a harvest. 

Wrapping tomatoes in newspaper

We eagerly wrap tomatoes like little gifts and hide them away to ripen.  We’ll peek in on them every week and watch their progress.  It’s not the way it’s supposed to happen, but it works.  It’s exactly right for this season.

I’m up to my elbows in unripe tomatoes that will ripen in an unexpected way–a way I didn’t imagine existed.  No God-given dream in my life has turned out in the manner I imagined.  The right process, the plan that was supposed to unfold in a particular way, veered off into orbit and produced a harvest in a different way, under different conditions.  I’ve learned to trust this concept.  I’ve learned to accept, trust, and then rejoice when Plan A fails.

I hold my dreams loosely–gently wrapped and tucked away.  God knows when and how they’ll come about.   

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