Leah squeaked in pain as her arm was scratched, yet again, by the raspberry bush she was trying to maneuver around. She should have worn long sleeves as Gran had suggested. She carefully picked her shirt free from the barbs of a spiny green shoot reaching out from the damp soil.
The rain from last night had gently soaked the earth and the intense sun had dried all but the ground under the densely growing stalks. Leah knelt gingerly, and bit back a yelp as her knee found yet another painful briar.
She stubbornly wiggled her way into a spot deep under the bushes where the berries hung in luscious ripe red clusters with only a few of the hard greenish white ones mixed in. From her practical position, Leah could reach up and pick the ones hiding low and under the leaves. The ones most people couldn’t see or get to. Being only nine and very small had its good points.
The songs of birds and crickets were getting boring. “Gran, why did God make raspberries with thorns?”
Gran chuckled nearby. “If they were too easy to get to, they’d be already eaten!”
The silence enveloped them again; but Leah knew Gran and she waited because the best was still brewing under her steel gray bun.
“Sometimes painful thorns hide the most wonderful treasures. It’s worth taking the time and effort and even the pain to get to the fruit hiding deep in the bush.”
Leah’s brow wrinkled and her nose twitched. “You mean people, right Gran?” She swatted at a mosquito and brushed a bee away from her ear.
The sounds of Gran making her way out of the berry thicket made her pick faster. Gran’s pail was sure to be heaped up without room for one more berry. “Keep talking, Leah.”
As Gran made her way back into the patch she had just vacated, Leah popped a berry into her mouth and enjoyed the soft fuzzy tickle on the roof of her mouth. She rolled it around a bit, savoring the moment, and then squished it with her tongue. The juice filled her mouth and the sweet flavor made her jaw ache.
“If you’re finished with your berry, please finish what you were saying.” Leah grinned. Gran couldn’t see her, but knew exactly what she was doing. Gran always knew. Leah inhaled deeply, enjoying the blended scents of berries, damp earth, and green growing things.
“I guess it means that just because a person isn’t easy to get to know, or even seems thorny,” Leah giggled at the picture that flashed through her mind, “it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it… even though I might get hurt trying to get to the good stuff.”
“That’s right. Lots of thorny bushes hide some of the sweetest fruit. Those thorns are just protecting the bush from being destroyed and the fruit from being stolen.”
“But strawberries aren’t like that, Gran.” Another bee buzzed past Leah’s nose. “And neither are you.” She inched her way back out of the maze of thorns and berries, pushing the pail ahead of her.
“Why do people grow thorns, Gran?” She stood in the clearing and stretched.
“Because they feel they need to protect themselves from getting bruised, hurt… even destroyed. They’re trusting thorns instead of God.” Gran talked as she made her way out and joined Leah at the huge collecting buckets. She opened the jug of lemonade and they shared a drink.
“I was thorny long ago, Leah. But I made the decision to take that chance of being hurt so that God could use my fruit however He wanted.” They watched as a Cardinal jabbed at the bark of an apple tree, searching for bugs. “I’ve been bruised, but God is my gardener and He always gives me what I need to keep on growing.”
“How’d you get so smart, Gran? You always have such wise answers to boring questions.” Leah took Gran’s gnarled berry-stained hand and squeezed it.
“No question is boring. Questions mean you are thinking about your world and the life God has given you, and that will help you get to know Him better. I suppose that’s how I’ve found the answers you’re talking about. I’ve asked Him many questions through the years and have learned to see a glimpse of Him in every tiny piece of life."
Leah looked up at her grandmother’s serene and sparkling blue eyes. “I’m so glad you’re a strawberry Gran.”
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