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On Strawberries and True Generosity

Last August was a monumental month for me: after years of scrimping and saving until I could finally manage a down payment, I finally purchased my very own home.

It was also late that summer that I first met my warm-hearted neighbor, who after introducing himself one lazy Sunday afternoon tacitly remarked that the former owner used to generously share of her strawberry patch with him and his family.

I nodded politely, but inwardly I groaned. I had already been planning the pies, preserves, and other goodies that would come from my anticipated harvest. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I wanted those sweet, juicy berries all for myself, or at least, I was only willing to share once I knew that I could have first pick.

I worked hard to save for this house, I thought, and those strawberries are mine.

Fast forward a few months, to the thick of winter, buried under our first heavy snowfall. I huffed and puffed as I shoveled my way down my driveway. Once again I found myself face-to-face with that same neighbor. In a beautiful moment only those of us in snowy climates can fully appreciate, our gazes met, he pointed to his snowblower, and then to my shovel, as if to say, Hey, can I take care of this for you?

I gratefully nodded . . . and then I remembered those strawberries. I had been so reluctant to share something small with him, yet here he was willing to offer his time (and his sweat) for my sake.

Those memories are particularly vivid for me in light of today’s Old and New Testament readings—the First Reading about Elisha’s barley loaves (2 Kings 4:42-44) and the Gospel reading about the two fish and five loaves of bread. (John 6:1-15)

What I want you to hear in today’s readings, sisters, is that God multiplies our generosity in ways we can never imagine: “They shall eat and there shall be some left over.” (2 Kings 4:43) We need not fear giving away those things to which we cling so fiercely. You might not be clinging to strawberries, but perhaps there is something else on your heart of which God is gently urging you to let go.

Take a moment to write it down and ask for the strength and trust to give it away. 

Karen Schultz hails from the Land of 10,000 lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. As a doula, lactation educator, and FertilityCare Practitioner, she finds joy in helping women to embrace the gift of their bodies. Downtime is found in quiet adoration chapels, farmers markets and gardens, listening to bluegrass music, and embracing the diversity of Minnesota’s seasons. You can find out more about her here.

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