I'd noticed something the last time I was there, and this evening I arrived with a small container and a little bit of time on my hands.
What I'd seen were the berries staining the ground on the outskirts of the parking lot, crushed by the thousands by the rolling wheels of passing cars. They were falling from a couple of trees, and though I'd not given them a passing thought before, I found myself suddenly thinking: "Mulberries. These are mulberries."
I did a quick check with my handy-dandy smartphone, just to insure that these were not the fruit of the North American Vomitberry tree. Nope. These were mulberries. Cool.
I can't ever recall eating a mulberry. Not ever. So I popped one in my mouth. It had a slightly sweet, subtle flavor...a bit like an Asian pear in blackberry form. I had another. Not bad.
And as the tree was a riot of them, I came today with a container, and spent some time berry picking on the periphery of a suburban-sprawl parking lot. Something to add to the mix in the next batch of jam I make, I think. Mul-strawberry jam might work. Or maybe a Strawmulberry Smoothie. Have to give it a try.
The tree itself was a riot of fruit, and I couldn't help thinking that as little as two generations ago, that would have been something we would have noticed. Here is creation, pouring out sweetness for our pies and our jellies. But in our chromed steel lives, we bustle on by, mashing the sweetness into the tarmac with our wheeled cages, or grumble as the fruit we tread underfoot stains our shoes.
As I picked a pint of them this evening, I found myself feeling vaguely transgressive. As if my behavior was violating some sort of social norm.
While harvesting, I thought about our theologies of abundance. We want abundant lives, and for God to fulfill our every desire. We pray for our lives to be filled to overflowing. But I struggle with that approach to abundance, because it is not actually a desire for abundance. It is hunger. It is a grasping emptiness.
The abundance we need to seek...or which I seek, I won't presume to speak for you...is that abundance that pours self out as joyously and freely as our Creator pours out being.
The mulberry tree seems to get it.