Berries in the Snow by Maureen O'Shea


osheaThe other afternoon I drove over to the supermarket at lunchtime.  As many a mother can attest, often lunch hour has nothing to do with lunch and much more to do with trying to catch up with the many errands we never have the time or energy for.

It was a bitingly cold, blustery day in early January and the snow on the ground no longer looked pretty, just ugly and dirty.  Finding no parking spaces near the entrance I drove to the far end of the lot.

As I put the car in park, something bright red caught my eye.  I looked a little closer and noticed one small branch of what looked like Christmas holly berries.  They were tiny and didn’t appear to be attached to anything, it seemed as if they were growing right out of the dirt.

I glanced around and noticed the filth that is January in a busy parking lot.  There were old newspapers, empty water bottles, plastic bags, garbage and black snow all around this particular area with sad looking bushes leaning against a fence and in the middle, these bright little berries.  It kind of struck me as unusual, but then I had to get on with my shopping.

For the next few days the picture of the berries kept coming back to my mind.  These bright, fragile, hopeful little berries growing and thriving among all the detritus of the parking lot.  A lot like the light of Jesus trying to grow in my soul.

You see, I allow too much of the dirt and the garbage of the world to take up space in my mind, and my heart.  I pack in all the nonsense and irrelevant things like anger and disappointment and self pity.  I pay attention to all the drivel that is unimportant, I worry about what other people think of me and how I look and whether or not Angelina and Brad are still together, things that while seemingly important in this world are not really what we’re meant to fill our mind and spirits with.

You see, I believe we’re here for a short time and our everyday life is meant to support us to do the real work that God put us here for.  To find our calling, our talent, to share our love and support for our fellow travelers on this earth.  To create relationships with God and one another and most of all to allow Him to work through us to encourage and lift up other people.

We allow ourselves to get distracted and forget that we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. To offer His smile, His kind words, His loving touch to our family, friends, even strangers.

After all these years on this planet I think our purpose is to just allow Him to steer the course, to listen to His promptings and be open to opportunities to offer His gentleness.  I know that when I am close to God in prayer and keep the lines of communication open, my life is different.  Oh, sometimes it’s imperceptible, and when I fall back to my old worldly ways, I often hardly notice the difference right away.

But we’ve all been there, we’ve all been in a position when we’re doing something, usually for someone else, and it feels right, it feels good, it feels like home.  When we’ve opened ourselves up to the possibilities that God had in store for us from the beginning, and the worries that usually haunt us seem to have drifted away for a little while.  Sometimes it’s in a place we’ve never been before, sometimes it’s just letting go, allowing ourselves to just be.

The bible tells me that God made you and me in His image.  I have a very long way to go.  But…He’s working on me.  I look at myself and my life over the past several years and I see his handicraft.  I see how I’ve been molded, chipped away as it were and I stand amazed.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m as flawed as ever, but the tiny little filings of my soul fall at my feet.

When I allow him to be the artisan of my life, the director of my path, I feel peace.  Contentment.  Those little berries could teach me a thing or two.  They don’t look around and say, “It ain’t going to work here, I have to move on, Lord, put me in a lovely garden on a pretty street”. No they struggle on bravely, content, strong, doing their best in spite of their surroundings.  Bright and beautiful doing what God intended, exactly where He’s lovingly placed them.

It’s amazing when God shows you little signposts in your life, like little red berries, sparkling gems, glittering in the sea of life.  I want to be like those little berries, I want to accept where’s He’s put me and allow His spirit to grow so that I, like the berries, are not even aware of my surroundings, because they don’t matter.  I want to begin the real work of my life.  I want to be in alignment with His will and His plan for my life and just grow brightly and beautifully, shining His light for all the world to see.  It’s so restful when you allow Him to lead the way and allow His heavenly love to encompass you.  When you start to sit up and listen and pay attention to the little reminders that are everywhere around you it’s miraculous.  “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” Psalm 95: 7-8.

Just for today, I’ll soften my heart, I’ll quiet my thinking, I’ll listen with my soul.  For I long to hear His voice, and I cry out for His attention.  But the truth is, it’s never been Him that doesn’t listen.  It’s me.  And I’ll remember those tiny berries as a visualization of the seeds of love sown in me by a loving creator who dreamt of me before the beginning of time.  A reminder of the great plans He has for me as long as I don’t allow myself to get distracted by the things that just don’t matter.

Just for today.

Copyright 2010 Maureen O’Shea


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