My neighbor has giant blackberry bushes at his back fence and this time of year they are loaded with ebony jewels, plump and succulent, ripe for the picking.
I’m invited to come over every morning with a jar and pluck a quart a day. Plucking keeps the vines producing and each year I have enough blackberries to last through the winter if I ration them carefully.
Dave’s vines are the thornless variety. But that doesn’t keep me from flinching when I begin to pick. It’s only after plucking the first few berries that I relax and remember there is no possibility of getting pricked by a thorn.
It’s a reflex from childhood berry picking excursions, when brambly old bushes provided us with snacks during long summer days of play. Blackberry bushes were not cultivated but grew by the side of the road or the edge of a field. We’d stick our tan arms in the ragged bushes and get pricked and scratched to harvest berries, always content that the pain was worth the raw berries or the blackberry pie we’d have at the end of the day.
No matter how careful we were, we’d always experience a thorn or two. A prick, a flinch and we were at it again, undaunted and intrepid.
So picking berries from Dave’s bush is a trip back to childhood. It’s funny how I still flinch at the perceived pain of plucking from the bushes.
Flinching is the body’s way of thinking twice before we’re injured. It’s helpful and hurtful at the same time.
How many times do we flinch at an old memory, an old hurt or pain, a perceived pricking and scratching of the soul or heart? It’s easy to want to withdraw, remembering the heartache of a moment or the shattering of a dream.
Disappointment and sorrow are like thorns on a bush. We can allow them to get under our skin and stop our harvest or remember the bad often goes with the good. Flinching is only a momentary reflex. A warning that only lasts a second.
Harvest your berries, your talents, your energies. Harvest that thing you’ve always wanted to do but makes you flinch. Work through the brambles and you’ll discover jewels.