Peaches and Life Lessons

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Just the other day, while I was making my weekly grocery run, I bought a peach.

I knew better. Certainly I did. Mid-May is far too early for peaches. Even if the time were right, store-bought fruit lacks the sweet juiciness inherent in its farm-stand counterparts. Living where I do, I am spoiled by the rich bounty of the harvest, by luscious peaches and nectarines and strawberries and blackberries picked at the peak of the season, by fresh tomatoes and basil and green beans, all grown by local farmers and offered at numerous open-air markets throughout our county. What can a grocery store peach, picked when still green, sold a full month before they’ll be in season, offer in comparison to that?

I knew better, and yet there they were, stacked in front of me, beckoning. They smelled like heaven, fresh and delicious, like summer and bare feet in the grass and tossed green salads. I knew better, but my reason had no weapons with which to fight against my senses, and so I found one that felt just right and placed it in my bag, my mouth already watering in sweet anticipation.

I need not tell you that it was a disappointment, that though it looked and smelled perfect, my peach’s taste left something to be desired. I wrapped it in a towel before taking a bite, a precaution to prevent juice from running down my fingers, but I needn’t have bothered; it was dry, bland, uninspiring, just what one would expect from an off-season, store-bought peach.

This is the part of the blog post where I ought to reflect on the consequences of letting my emotions or my senses win over my reason, of letting temptation drown out the things I know to be true. Here, I should say something about rushing ahead, about impatience, about the importance of waiting on God’s timing. There’s plenty of fodder for that here, in my little anecdote about a peach, lots of room for a sermon illustration or a devotional thought. I could wax poetical, expose my fallibility, express my gratitude that God gave me insight into myself and the world by providing such an illustration for me.

This is the perfect opportunity for a thoughtful reflection, a nice life lesson, and that was the route I planned to take as I dropped my half-eaten peach in the compost bin. I had the draft worked out in my head, key phrases mulled over until they sounded just right. Such a pretty, inspirational post I had planned. One that would have reflected the attitude I wish I had, the faith I wish I had, the outlook I wish I had.

But there’s the rub, I suppose, and the reason you’re reading this post instead of the one I wanted to write: that little “I wish”.

I know we are called to wait upon God, to be patient for His timing, to lean on His understanding and not our own. I am all too fallible, too likely to listen to my senses, to my emotions, to allow those things to override what I know to be true. And so my little illustration would not be out of line with what I believe.

And yet, it feels false somehow to write that post, because at my core, something rebels against such statements, such sayings. Though I often wish for a simple faith, for one that didn’t doubt or push or struggle quite so much, one more childlike and accepting, that is not where I am right now, here, today. Right now, here, today, I could have written that post I wanted to write, pretended to adopt that faith and attitude I wish I had, and even as I did so, I’d have winced at using words and ideas so familiar, ideas cited so often they’ve become a cliché. A voice in the back of my mind would have whispered, “But it isn’t that easy, is it?”

I am trying to sift through my faith, through my skepticism, to determine which thoughts and reactions will take me deeper, will weed out the clichés, and which are pushing me farther from truth. I’m wrestling with this process, for it is not an easy one, nor is it quick, and I do not like this place of waiting. God feels far off, and though I want to write of more than doubts and questions and unmet expectations, anything else feels hypocritical, somehow. My faith is the most defining aspect of my life, and yet the language of it tastes bitter in my mouth, sour, disappointing.

Which brings me full-circle, back to that peach from the grocery store. “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” David urges, and I believe him. With all my heart I do. I remember the sweetness, the flavor bursting in my mouth, the joy and the hope and the goodness of it. And yet, the taste in my mouth now, today, in this moment is dry, bland, uninspiring, with only hints of what it should be, of what it has been in the past.

But summer is coming. It’s coming, and with it, the bounty of the harvest, and I cling to this hope: that one day, I will taste that sweetness again.

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