Friday, July 15, 2011

The Mulberry Gospel

God talks to me through plants; mostly weeds and berries. Lately mulberries are talking. Seems strange, I know, but I don’t really care if I am strange.

When I was younger, I would feel depressed and go running to try to ward it off. If I was really sad, sometimes by chance I would happen upon some blackberry bushes full of berries on the side of the road somewhere, and I would stop and they would say to me that life is dry and dusty and full of thorns, but God still loves me--- He drops little bundles of sweetness into my life just like blackberries on thornbushes. That happened a lot. It helped me get through. So lately, I have been running again, not because I am depressed, but because I want to be fit. And there is this totally amazing mulberry tree in front of my neighbor’s yard that every day has more ripe berries on it than I can eat. They’re like soft blackberries with no thorns or seeds, but with delightful little stems that pop.

Everyone’s heard of mulberries, right? Hardly anyone has eaten them. I think maybe they don’t keep well enough to sell in stores. The trees are pretty enough, but extremely messy. That’s why people who build track homes plant the fruitless kind, for shade without mess. The ground around the real kind is black with berries that didn’t get picked, and if you venture too close, your shoes are permanently stained and nastied, and then you carry that gunk to wherever you go next. If you pick and eat the berries, your fingers and teeth take on a nice purple discoloration. Stinkbugs also love mulberries. If you aren’t paying attention, and you eat a stink bug, you will suffer for it, I promise. I made a stinkbug-mulberry smoothie once, and didn’t know what the gross flavor was until my bug-savvy husband tasted it. Yes, indeed, I will never forget that smoothie. Eeeewwwww.

The neighbor that owns the tree doesn’t eat the berries; thinks they’re too messy, kind of a curse. He didn’t plant the tree, doesn’t water it, or fertilize it, or care about it---it was a volunteer that has been growing there since long before I ever considered living here.  Kids who walk by on their way to junior high pick the berries and make them into little stain bombs that they assault each other with. Older people walk by without ever looking up, just trying to keep their shoes clean. Other people go by, afraid to eat the berries, because they think maybe they’re poisonous or that maybe they’re not allowed to.

But every day I go running, I tell myself that my reward is to go to the tree and eat until I am nearly sick. Every day, there are new beautiful black mulberries that ripened overnight in order to be ready for me when I get there. If they’re ripe, they fall off in your hand when you gently touch them---just like the mercy of God, new every morning, all you have to do is take it. And just like Jesus, everybody’s heard of Him, but all some people can see of Him is religion, with its messy reasons not to go there and immature people throwing stain bombs. Or maybe they have eaten stinkbugs and sworn off mulberries altogether, thinking that sometimes it just tastes like that, and who wants to take that chance? Nope, that’s not why I love this tree. That’s just mulberry trash you’ve got to be wise about avoiding.

The love of God is sweet and kind, faithful and free and real. You’ve got to get it from Him yourself, because it isn’t for sale. Don’t get focused on the stinkbugs or the nasty mess at your feet or you will miss the incredible bounty hanging right above your head. Those berries will make me run 3 miles and smile the whole time, and not care if my fingers are stained and my teeth are too, my running shoes are wrecked, and people driving by stare at me like a freak as I stuff berries in my mouth. “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” that’s what the mulberries are saying. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Things to Miss

We will be leaving Arambol soon, and I started thinking about things good and bad, here and there.

Here are some of the things that came to mind...

Things I miss
about the US
Things I don’t miss about the US
Things I will miss
about Arambol
Things I won’t miss about Arambol
·   Hot showers
·   Tools that work (Jacob)
·   My bed
·   Oma & Opa
·   US friends and family
·   Drinking water from the tap
·   Milk that comes in cartons, not baggies
·   The ability to cook easily
·   Set prices that don’t change based on the color of your skin
·   Homegrown veggies
·   Homegrown eggs and our chickens
·   Thrift stores and garage sales
·   Mexican people
·   Real Mexican food
·   Cheap but good peanut butter
·   Good bread and cheese
·   Clean meat
·   Restaurants with health codes
·   Trash collectors
·   Art supplies at a reasonable price
·   Food Josiah can eat
·   Food without preservatives
·   My washing machine
·   Fireplaces
·   Pine and cedar trees
·   The Sierras
·   A mirror that I can see my whole self in
·   Flower gardens
·   Mixing my own henna
·   Soap that’s not slimy
·   Internet that works
·   Being able to get a lot of things done
·   Trader Joe’s
·   Public libraries
·   Having a phone
·   Blenders that work
·   Freedom to go places by myself
·   Surfers
·   Bike rides
·   Backpacking
·  Mockingbirds

·      People isolated in their own houses
·      Expensive vegetables
·      Snooty, mall-loving people who are so rich and don’t even think about the rest of the world
·      Hollywood media
·      Giant SUVs
·      Rap music blaring out of people’s cars
·      Brand name fashion
·      Cars and traffic
·      Over-regulation
·      US Politics
·      No one having enough free time to just ‘be’ together
·      Few people with similar ideals
·      The cost of living
·      Being so far from the beach
·      Cold oceans
·      Tons of soy-based food
·      Junkmail
·   Pigs running free
·   Friends at every turn in the road
·   People hanging out outside all the time
·   Not a lot of TV
·   Cheesy billboards and misspelled English signs
·   Rosario yelling some unintelligible thing
·   Curry plants
·   Swimming in the warm ocean water
·   Going to the beach every day
·   Scooters
·   Royal Enfields
·   Feeling like you could do any crazy thing and no one would even look twice
·   Friends from everywhere
·   Always being warm
·   Being tan
·   Live music
·   Creativity flowing
·   Living in a circus
·   Wild parrots and kingfishers
·   Monkeys in trees
·   Samosas, Uttapam, Dosas, and Puri Bhaji
·   Talking to people from all over the world
·   Going to meditation here
·   Kids playing soccer
·   Bhindis, bangles, and saris
·   Jogging on the beach
·   Elephants
·   The sunset gathering
·   People to drum with (Jacob)
·   Chai chai chai for 5 rupees
·   Dreads and tattoos
·   Guys wearing lunghis
·   Cool clothes for cheap
·   People juggling
·   Toothless and bow-legged old people
·   Seeing construction worker women in bright saris
·   Not a lot of laws (at least not many that anyone follows)
·   Goan Catholic ladies’ dresses
·   Maria’s sweet idli
·   Colors everywhere
·   Talking about spiritual things with almost anyone
·   The quicksilver ocean at sunset
·   Never knowing who you will meet today
·   Funny things in English that non-native English speakers say
·   Coconut palms
·   Strangers who smile at you
·   Hermit crabs
·   Sand art
·   Jaya’s cooking skills
·   Geckos on our walls
·   Indian children
·   Our parrot
·   Ants in my computer
·   Ants in my bed
·   Ants in my cooking
·   Ants in the sink
·   Ants in my clothes
·   ANTS
·   Power that turns off at any random time
·   Rosario yelling some unintelligible thing
·   Burning plastic smoke choking me
·   Trash everywhere
·   The inability to cook
·   Getting ripped off
·   “Mosquito Time”
·   Horns honking
·   Gypsies trying to sell you jewelry and sarongs on the beach every five minutes
·   Beggars, because you never know who is behind their begging
·   Sewage in the street
·   My kids being covered in dirt and sand
·   The chaos of a mob of children in the dirt and sand
·   Half-naked westerners and gawking Indian men
·   Cockroaches and rats and poisonous snakes
·   The putrid smell of Rosario’s bull
·   People trying to be  ‘cool’
·   Russian people arguing
·   Seeing construction worker women, because they work so hard for so little
·   Pollution
·   Corrupt police
·   Loan sharks and mafia controlling things
·   Idol worship
·   Having to bargain for almost everything you buy
·   Techno music
·   Cigarette smoke
·   Mold
·   Rampant fear and superstition
·   Beach dogs
·   Piles of poo
·   Cesspools
·   Being called ‘madam’
·   Men peeing all over
·   The smell of rancid coconut oil
·   Speedos with thong backs on fat hairy men
·   Crows
·   Not being able to find what you need without going all over the state
·   Goan music blaring out of crappy speakers on full blast
·   Cockroaches in my bathroom towel
·   Starving, sick dogs
·   Friends that leave with your heart L