Abundance and Waste


I’ve been elbow-deep in apples for the past week, slicing, dicing, coring, cooking, blending, seasoning, canning, freezing. It’s what comes of a silly decision to buy two bushels of apples to supplement the two I picked from my own tree, I suppose. Well, that, and a decided thrift and a dogged determination to see this thing through, and also, perhaps, the teensiest bit of pride at having all those pretty jars filled with yummy goodness for eating and for giving away, all those bags of applesauce stacked high in the freezer.

Through a little bit here and a little bit there, working while Katie is napping or eating or otherwise busy, devoting my evenings and one especially productive morning when my mother-in-law came to keep a certain toddler occupied while I worked, I’ve made good progress: only one half bushel remains to process. An end is in sight, and this is a good thing.

The apples that came from our own tree were not the sort you’d find at your neighborhood grocery store, or even at the local farmers’ market. We did not spray, did not really tend our poor tree in any way, and so, while the quantity of our fruit was good, the quality left something to be desired. I had the occasional perfect specimen, looking as though it came straight from Eden, and all the good parts tasted delicious, but the majority of the fruit was misshapen. There were blotches and soft spots and rot and, far too often, worms.

My work, then, required me to cut out many imperfections, to find and keep the good apple flesh and discard the rest. There were any number of metaphors that ran through my head as I wielded my paring knife, any number of parables to be drawn from this experience: the way that rot was often, but not always, visible on the outside of the fruit; the fact that disease spreads quickly when left on its own; the observation that most of my apples still had some salvageable parts, no matter how widely spread the imperfections. But the lesson that struck me most clearly came toward the end of the day today, when I was picking through the last of the apples from my tree:

Abundance encourages waste.

As I neared the bottom of the box, it occurred to me that my scrap bucket was filling more rapidly than it had when I started, when I hadn’t yet grasped how much work lay ahead of me. Instead of carefully cutting around rot, as I did at the beginning, as I would have done had I only had handfuls of apples to process instead of bushels, I found myself scrapping entire sections of fruit. Because I had so much, I didn’t value it as I would have had I only had a little.

And of course, I did have a profusion of fruit, way more than we can reasonably eat (which is why much of it went into jars instead of the freezer: the better to share it with others). I had more than enough, and my time is a valuable resource, too, and so I see no harm in discarding some small amount of good fruit with the bad.

But it did get me thinking: where else do I devalue those things I have in abundance? What other areas in my life are marked by waste, because I do not appreciate what I have?

Food? Clothing? Money? Health? Time? Love? Freedom? Grace?

I take so much for granted. May I learn to see, to value, to treasure the good things I have been given.

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