Today’s Gospel reading was the parable of the talents and the sin of omission, so when the boys brought in buckets and buckets of apples this morning, I could hardly ignore them. It would have been a sin to waste so much good fruit, even if they aren’t the prettiest apples in the world. They are the ones that grow on my trees, the gifts that God has given us this year, and though I had a long to-do list, I shoved everything aside to work on those apples.
I found myself working alone at first, but as I assigned jobs and the kids found their peelers and slicers and sat down to work, they also found their humor. It was not long before an “I-don’t-have-time-for-this” silence was replaced with, “Remember when we…”
Since I was the senior cook in charge of the canning, I had to make sure the apples were spiced with sugar and cinnamon before going into the hot jars and then into the even hotter boiling bath. In the midst of all this, a water filter had to be changed and a couple band-aids applied, but I found myself listening to the kids reminiscing about other family-fun activities, some of which I had never known about… And I realized that life really is what happens when you are planning other things. It is in accomplishing the jobs at hand that create the warmest memories.
When we first moved out here nearly twenty years ago, I used to listen to the farmers’ wives talk about the 20 quarts of jam they put up or the 4000 pints they froze. At the time I was rather underwhelmed by their accomplishments simply because I was so blatantly ignorant of how much work it took to put up a measly seven jars of anything. Now I know better. I also understand why they smiled when they reminisced. They weren’t just proud of their accomplishments; they had enjoyed the time with family, the stories swapped, the jokes played on each other. I can envision what it was like because we have repeated the process several times now.
Perhaps, at first, it does seem like just another big job, and I have to hand out paring knives like a Drill Sargent, but after a bit, those talents which seemed like a burden, quickly repay the effort. The kids and I have a change of perspective and perhaps a change of heart too. Life is in the little moments.