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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)

TITLE: Blackberry Cobbler
By Emily Gibson


On our farm are banks of blackberry bushes and vines on the periphery of the woods, covering an old deteriorating barbwire fence, literally becoming the fence itself in their overwhelming growth. The blackberry vines are trouble 90% of the year--growing where they are not welcome and reaching out and grabbing passersby without discriminating between human, dog or horse. But for about 3 weeks in September, they yield black gold--bursting, swelling, unimaginably sweet fruit that is worth the hassle borne the rest of the weeks of the year.

I had grown a little suspicious the last couple nights as I brought my horses into the barn for the night as several of the mares turned out in the back field were bearing purplish stains on their chests and front legs, and one even had a tell-tale purplish mark on her muzzle with a short blackberry vine still painfully stuck in her lower lip that I extracted for her.

Hmmmm. Raiding the berries. Desperate drought forage behavior in an extremely efficient eating machine. Wonder if there will be any left for cobbler for the weekend church potluck?

So the next day I head down the path to the back field, not seeing the mares until I rounded the corner of the woods, and headed toward the berries. When they saw the bowl in my hand, that was it. They mobbed me. I was irresistible.

So with three mares in tow, I approached the berry bank. It was ravaged. Trampled. Manure piles everywhere. All that were left were clusters of gleaming black berries up high overhead, barely reachable on my tip toes, and only reachable if I walked directly into the vines. The mares stood in a little line behind me, pondering me as I pondered my dilemma.

I set to work picking what I could reach,snagging, ripping and bloodying my hands and arms, despite my sleeves, determined that I was not going to give up on this vision of steaming blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream that I'd entertained all day. Pretty soon I had mares on either side of me, diving into the brambles and reaching up to pick what they could reach as well, unconcerned about the thorns that tore at their sides and muzzles. They were like sharks in water-completely focused on their prey and amazingly skilled at grabbing just the black berries, and not the pale green or red ones. Three plump mares and one *plumpish* woman willingly accumulated scars in the name of sweetness.

When my bowl was full, I extracted myself from the brambles and contemplated how I was going to safely make it back to the barn without being mugged. Not a problem. I adopted that "look" and that "voice" and they obediently trailed behind me, happy to be put in their stalls for their nightly grain, a gift from me with no thorns or vines attached.

Thorns are indeed part of our everyday life. They stand in front of much that is sweet and good and precious to us. They tear us up, bloody us, make us cry, make us beg for mercy. Perhaps the painful thorn is a little girl struggling to wake from a head injury, a young man reeling from a cancer diagnosis, a family grieving the loss of their soldier in Iraq, a nation stunned by the humanity lost in terrorist attacks. Where could the sweetness be behind such pain? What can justify the scars that are borne by innocent people? How do we keep going despite everything fighting to keep us from our goal, from the goodness that we reach for?

Yet thorns did not stop salvation, did not stop goodness, did not stop the promise of sweetness to come. We must simply wait, patient though starving, to be fed: a gift dropped from heaven.

Anyone for blackberry cobbler?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/14/09
I'll have some cobbler, please. This is an outstanding devotional.
Mona Purvis05/15/09
Like mine warm, forget the ice cream. Maybe a cup of black coffee.
Loved the telling, the message, soft and true.
Betty Castleberry05/18/09
Your title drew me in as blackberry cobbler is one of my favorite desserts.

Nice illustration, lovely devotional.
Patricia Herchenroether05/21/09
Very nice devotional and your farm sounds wonderful!