Monday, May 19, 2014

No Short Cuts

A happy little cantaloupe before its journey 
I think it's human nature to try to find a faster, easier way to do things, don't you? Progress. Efficiency. Increased production.

But some things simply defy short cuts.

Take cantaloupes for example. I love a ripe, juicy melon as much as the next Floridian, maybe even more. But I must admit that until today I never gave much thought about how they get from the field to my table.

This morning I detoured my prayer walk to a wooded area adjacent to what is usually a large strawberry field. Apparently I haven't been observant enough to notice that the green plants aren't dotted with red berries as they've always been in the past. Nope, this time white globes peppered the fields.

And as evidenced by the workers swarming the place, today was harvest day!

I expected to see the field hands gather the cantaloupes much the same way they do strawberries - filling a flat or container of some sort that they drag along behind them along the row. But not so. The harvesting process was actually quite mesmerizing in its beauty and simplicity, and I found myself standing there watching for quite a while.

A truck straddled a newly picked row, moving forward at a snail's pace; three men stood atop the truck bed on either side of the truck catching the cantaloupes tossed up to them by three men moving parallel in the field on both sides of the truck.

The tossers were pretty incredible. In one graceful swoop, the man leaned down, picked a cantaloupe and hoisted the 5-lb fruit up and over his head. Like an NFL quarterback. He threw the thing in a perfect arc to the receiver on the truck and immediately bent back down for another. Down, up. Down, up. Down, up.

I'm not talking a single play here. He must've thrown a hundred passes on one row alone and these guys weren't all that close to the truck either.

My arms ached just watching them.

Over and over and over the heavy white balls arced through the air like fat birds in flight. The receiver who caught it then turned and rolled the melon into a crate which I presume would soon be on its way to the market. Catch, turn. Catch, turn. Catch, turn.

Everyone moved in perfect timing like a graceful, choreographed dance. It was truly inspiring to watch. Unexpected grace in an unexpected place.

I marveled that in this day of automation and machinery, cantaloupes are still harvested this way. Evidently there is no quicker, easier way. No short cuts. At least in one farmer's way of thinking.

And then I started thinking of other things in life for which there are no short cuts. Developing relationships. Healing, both emotionally and physically. Learning to do anything well. Trusting Papa God.

Sometimes we just have to go through the motions and endure the long, tedious journey. Down, up. Down, up. Down, up. Catch, turn. Catch, turn. Catch, turn. Because the repetition, the details, the hardness of it are essential to the process. The process that produces change in us. The process that makes the journey our actual destination.

So the next time you take a big ole bite of a luscious, ripe cantaloupe and the juice trickles down your chin, won't you join me in a moment of gratitude for doing some things the good old fashioned hard way?

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