My mama sent me a care package this past week, full of fruit from trees that my dad had cared and tended to. My parents have a suburban farm of sorts on their half acre in OrangeVale, CA, where they purposefully choose to grow produce that they can't get in the store. Baby Crawford peaches, Champagne grapes, Stars & Moon watermelons (2 40-pounders this summer off of that one!), Meyer lemons so big you would think they were an orange.
On Wright Farm, it's the last bit of the autumn harvest. Some apples are coming ripe, as are the pomegranates and persimmons. The latter two is what I received this week.
Aren't they beautiful?
Saturday morning, I spent about forty minutes de-seeding the two larger pomegranates. Utah Giants (although my mom called them "Utah Mediums" due to the drought). With Patty Griffin keeping me company on the stereo, I dug and picked and tried not to mar the jewel-like seeds that burst so easily.
As I did so, I was reminded of my trip in college to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. I was taking a class on Jewish Literature, and our professor, a tiny Jewish lady named Ann, decided that we needed to go on a field trip. The museum had just opened up, and had a "sound experience" room dealing the story of Genesis. We had read the Creation account as part of our literature, so she wanted us to experience an artistic form of it as well. But that is a story for another day.
As I was wandering through the gift shop, I kept seeing small bronze pomegranates. Being of a naturally curious personality, I asked one of the employees what they represented. She told me that according to one Jewish legend, a pomegranate was said to hold 613 seeds, which is the same number as laws in the Old Testament. It is a symbol of beauty and abundance, traditionally eaten to break the fast during Yom Kippur. Among many other things, the pomegranate serves as a reminder of God's laws and the love for his people.
As I took the knife to the fruit, red juice ran out from the seeds that I had crushed. It stained my hands, the counter top, my apron.
As I extracted the seeds from the membrane, my movements had to be thoughtful and precise.
As I put the seeds in the bowl, I had to pick out the small pieces of pith that had hitched a ride on the seed--even to get the tiniest bit in your mouth creates a bitter experience that ruins the goodness of the fruit.
Is this not how we should understand God's laws and love for us?
Seeds needed to be crushed. Much like Christ on the cross.
Seeds needed to be dug out of captivity--much like our souls.
And the pith needed to be kept separate from the seeds, just as legalism and poor theology needs to be kept from the truth of His word.
Seeding pomegranates takes time. The juice stains whatever it touches. Seeds burst in the mouth as they are crushed.
Understanding God's laws and love for us takes time. This understanding should leave a mark on our hearts and be evident of God's love in our lives. Let us go forth and know this type of love.