Tuesday, October 02, 2012

An everyday tragedy

Spring and summer have passed quickly from Scotland (if they had ever actually arrived) and we are already experiencing the precipice between fall and winter.  Despite the chilly weather, our little family has had a few consolations to get us through the long days.  One of those are the brambles or blackberry bushes that we pass daily on the way to and from Lawhead Primary school.  The bush is located at the entrance to the Lade Braes wooded path that leads to the duck pond, over the bridge, and up the hill to Lawhead's gate (which I might add is regularly guarded by some P4 girls who simply refuse to open unless you utter the beloved password of, yes, you guessed it "open says-a-me".  Claire despises them and mentions each morning that she would like to tattle their mischief to the headteacher).  The blackberry bush has become such a delight to our tastebuds that Autumn now grunts and puts forth her best effort to say "berry" each time we pass it even at 20mph on our bike. 

Sadly, tragedy has hit.  On a leisurely walk back home from dropping Claire off my friend Jenn and I turned the corner to find a bush that once spanned 10yards hacked down to wooden stub.  The culprits, local Fife council workman (half construction worker-half parks and rec type guys) were just up at the end of the path looking annoyed to be alive and more than ready to rush to the next place that needed hacking.  My friend's sweet three-year-old son stared blankly at the now lonely fence that once supported the sprawling bush and said "mommy, where did the berries go?".  As if it wasn't horrific enough to see his favorite bush gone, the last of the workman came around the corner with his sharp cutters and took off what little was left of the bush.  Kind of like watching someone shoot an injured horse in front of your face. Or knowing your chocolate chip cookie was just stolen and someone ran by to grab the last chocolate crumb.

So much can be said about this incident, but I must first just state the grief that has hit.  Claire will be sorely disappointed and shocked to find her sweet berries gone.  Autumn will be angry with mommy for no longer providing the sugary bliss she craves each morning and afternoon.  To make matters wose, the bush was at the height of yeilding its harvest and almost seemed to have miraculously replenished itself just for us each day.  Many a taste, smile, stain, conversation, finger prick, and childhood memories were owed to the blackberry colony that has been demolished.

As I was thumbing through Scripture today, I came upon a passage in Isaiah about God's planting of a fertile vineyard in Jerusalem that he was going to make a wasteland because it did not yield good fruit. I had to agree that there is some justice to taking down a perfectly healthy plant that only produces bad fruit.  What struck me, though, is how UNjust it is to take down a plant that yeilds RIPE fruit!  The injustice of violence, theft, rape, genocide, even environmental exploitation that all of humanity is responsible for seems somehow closer to home through the simple cutting down of a delightful bush.  Why must we lazily, greedily, and enragingly hack away at one another, at the good things God has provided? 

If I have been so distraught over the loss of a prickly plant, how much more much it anger the Heavenly King to watch one of his little ones or one of his weak ones be taken down by the everyday evils of our world?

I'm not sure yet how I will explain this tragic incident to Claire or Autumn.  There is surely a lesson in it for us all, perhaps a different one for each of us.  For me, to be careful not to squash the ripening berries that my husband and daughters may be growing.  For Claire, that the world will take our hearts and break them if we trust in its pleasures to satisfy us alone.  For Autumn, that good things pass, but with hope they will grow again. 

In fact, it just so happened that last year about this same time, the local garden company visited our yard at our previous residence.  Within a matter of 20 mins they had not only mowed the lawn, but somehow managed to hack away any other pretty bit of creation left in the run-down lot.  A few bushes here, a few trees there, take off some flowers, and we'll leave you some dirt to look at for the winter...The garden had never been much to look at, but they left it utterly desolate- and in a time when we felt desolate ourselves.  With remarkable endurance and creativity, though, Keith spent many a Sunday outside taking the rocks that had been uncovered in the desolation and building a remarkable stone wall in our yard.  He bought and pruned a few plants to replace the
ones that had been hacked.  By spring, the wall was finished and the yard produced some unexpected flowers and young bushes.  Hope put into action sustains the earth when combined with the strength of a Daddy.

For now a school holiday and family trip to Paris will have to be consolation enough for the strong winds of a Scottish autumn which apparently also brings out the annual Hackers.  Claire is patiently awaiting the view of the Eiffel tower (that she also demands must be accompanied by a toy model).  Maybe a surprise trip to Disneyland will bring a smile to puffy Jagger cheeks, however short lived the high of Disney might be...