AUGUST is always a time of great fruitfulness in the Vicarage garden. We have Greengages, Damsons and Plums all ready for picking during the month, and Pauline and I try and freeze as many as we can, make fruit crumbles and make as much jam as time allows.
Sometimes the task of making the most of the fruit that grows in our garden all seems to be a bit too much effort at times, and the burden of it all sometimes weighs me down. Yet it seems to me that I should be grateful for God's providence and make the most of the generous gifts that he freely gives me.
It is said that in Africa there is a fruit called the "taste berry", because it changes a person's taste so that everything eaten tastes sweet and pleasant. Sour fruit, even if eaten several hours after the "taste berry," becomes sweet and delicious.
Gratitude is the "taste berry" of Christianity, and when our hearts are filled with gratitude, nothing that God sends us seems unpleasant to us.
A sorrowing heart filled with grief can be sweetened with gratitude for all the wonderful memories of all those precious moments we have shared with our loved ones, and all of the companionship and the achievements shared together. A soul weighed down by worries and fears can be, lightened by singing God's praises. The pain of loneliness can be dispelled through thankfulness for the love of family and friends. The burden of sickness can be eased by gratitude towards God for his enduring love for you, for his understanding of your pain and for his desire to bring you comfort and hope. Keep the "taste berry" of gratitude in your hearts, and it will do for you what the "taste berry" of Africa does for the African.
As the poet John Oxenham puts it:
For all things beautiful, and good, and true;
For things that seemed not good yet turned out good;
For all the sweet compulsions of Thy will
That chased, and tried, and wrought us to Thy shape;
For things unnumbered that we take of right,
And value first when first they are withheld;
For light and air; sweet sense of sound and smell;
For ears to hear the heavenly harmonies;
For eyes to see the unseen in the seen;
For vision of The Worker in the work;
For hearts that apprehend Thee everyone;
We thank Thee, Lord!
As St Paul puts it so eloquently in his letter to the Colossian Church:-
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
So let us practice thankfulness to God for all his love and generosity in our lives, and I am sure he will bless us in return.
With every good wish,