Last week the lone plum tree in our backyard was ready for harvesting. Every year the tree graciously offers up its fruit to the world and every year I do my best to bring in the harvest. Normally, I’ll make a few batches of plum jam that will serve us for the winter. Then I’ll give some to our family, friends, and neighbours. Sometimes I’ll even freeze some for baking fruit crisp during the fall and winter. But there are usually lots of plums remaining and so I have in the past donated these to the Union Mission that serves the homeless in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The entire endeavor can keep my busy for a full week.
This year I enlisted the help of volunteers to harvest the plums. These volunteers came from the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Society a non-profit organization that helps homeowners to harvest any extra fruit from their properties and to distribute the produce to those who are in need within the larger urban community. I had already made my jam, given away what I could to those close by and yet still had many plums to pick so I was happy when four volunteers arrived at my door. After an hour of going up and down ladders they had picked the tree almost clean except for a few plums that still were too green to pick. In total they picked 235 pounds of beautiful plums and transported these to the nearby neighbourhood houses for distribution to those in need! What an amazing harvest from one single tree.
I feel grateful to those who helped me with the harvest this year. Sharing the work surely made the harvest a more pleasant experience. I am also grateful to the plum tree for producing the fruit and allowing itself to be picked. How generous nature can be if we allow it and work in harmony with it rather than against it.
It seems to me that this is true of many things in life. There is a bounty of goodness in life. It is up to me to pay attention and to work in concert with the bountiful goodness of life. My own small and attentive working with life can contribute to the life of others. Of course, it is also true that in some areas of the world and in some matters ‘the harvest is plenty but workers are few’ (Matthew 9:37). There is indeed much work to be done in our world so that all may live in peace and justice upon a healthy planet. But, rather than get discourage I hang on to the abiding sense of gratefulness I feel when people work together for the good of all and to the promise of the back yard plum tree to generously provide food for the hungry and hope for our community.