How do I make sense out of this day?
I confess that I don’t ask this question when it’s all sunshine and smiles, when I feel like I have all that I need, surrounded by people I love and I’m confident they love me back—not that there have been many of those lately.
How do we make sense of a week’s worth of high and low days, a month’s? Or a year’s worth of high and low days, where it feels like the balance favors the days that beg the hard questions?
People offer the language of “seasons” to pull that off. We call getting through the hard days “weathering the storm.” Or “You’re just in a hard season.” Somehow, since the weather always changes, we’re allowed to transpose that behavior onto our circumstances. We’re supposed to synchronize our expectations with that reliable pattern of change. Somehow, passing time is supposed to make all the difference.
The trouble is, I have heard that explanation so often I don’t hear any truth in it anymore. The truth is, when I need it, I want more relief than a weather analogy can offer. If I am waiting for the weather to change, it’s unlikely I believe this this is either reasonable or seasonable weather. Today is not supposed to be like this.
This is the day that God has made. I’m told to rejoice and be glad in it.
How do I make sense of THIS day? This hour?
How do I rejoice?
How do I make sense of it when all I feel is the remoteness of God? When it seems like He is more concerned with the weather than He is with the roof over my head?
I carried these questions to the Farmer’s Market on Thursday. I went to get strawberries for a breakfast I was hosting, and because they’re in-season, they are cheapest and ripest there. It took me 2 hours to buy 3 baskets of strawberries because of what I found at a dozen other stalls: color and beauty in the fruit that bordered on absurd.
Not wanting to intrude on the growers and sellers there, I stopped at one booth and asked permission before I snapped a photo with my phone.
“Sure!” she said.
“Thank you. I don’t need any tomatoes today, but yours a beautiful.” 3 or 4 shots and I slid my phone into my back pocket, wondering if I could invent a need for those tomatoes. “I wish I had a use for your stuff today,” I told her.
She laughed. “We don’t even have to advertise. The colors call people over all on their own. They sell themselves. It’s a great season for that.”
Stand after stand, I was awestruck by the rich abundance. These were just piles of produce. The growers and sellers weren’t even trying. They didn’t have to.
No man-made ad campaign could ever create such a ripe and vivid immediacy. No setup or arrangement of circumstances would have had that power. No man could ever time it all so that it happened with 1000 varieties radiating glory on the same morning.
That’s what it means to be in-season.
The least we can do is show up for it. To stand at the Table and bear witness any way we know how.
For me, that’s getting the photo. And an extra cucumber, some white nectarines….
In order to make sense of the Farmer’s market, you have to be willing to buy and use what’s in-season.
Strawberries and blackberries are what’s good right now. There’s no sense in looking for apples. To make the most of what is offered in this season, you cook with tomatoes and basil. You don’t search for pumpkin and sage.
If I go looking for what’s out of season, I’ll never be satisfied.
If I insist on sourcing the unavailable from somewhere else and using it anyway, everything I make will be second-rate.
The way to make sense of the Farmer’s market is to embrace what the growers offer this present day and commit to using it today, or maybe, if you’re lucky, tomorrow. Local, organic fruit means ripeness and immediacy expire and sour faster than anything else.
To make sense of the Farmer’s Market, you have to know that Today’s offering is going to be the best there is for the season at hand. When you get there, take it all in. Buy the ripest. Use it today. It’s all you have.
It’s like Manna that way.
And it’s magnificent.
As I’m admiring the splendor, the cadence of the Sunday night liturgy comes to mind: I realize I’m delighting in something “the earth has given and human hands have made”. As Father Tom prays for the bread, he acknowledges
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
The wine, too, is the same kind of miracle. He prays,
Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.
These tomatoes, these peas, those zucchini…all literal fruit of the vine and work of human hands. All of them miraculous. All of them began with dirt and light and water. All have become something else. All of them have been transformed into something beautiful and life-giving.
There’s no making sense of that mystery today. Instead, I find Communion in it. I stand at the table which I have bread for today and bear witness to the miracle. I can’t help delight in it.
Whatever you call them, these days and their weather are what they are. And I don’t have answers.
But I see now that today isn’t about relief from the weather—either the stormy or the desert-hot.
It’s about abiding in the Vine until the Grower decides that the fruit is ripe. It’s not the weather that determines the timing, the season. It’s not the passing of time that brings the favorable change.
It’s this Communion.
Ah yes, delighting in the fruit of the season. Sometimes it’s a bounty of succulent berries and luscious stone fruit. But time comes when it’s a trickle of citrus and hard root vegetables. But that which the Grower provides is all good, even when all we want is a blackberry in December. We still want them then, though, knowing they taste terrible, cost too much, and don’t truly satisfy.
I learned the spiritual and economic lessons of eating seasonally and locally when we first moved to an island. But i also put up a lot of jam. 🙂