I made strawberry jam tonight.
Right in the middle of cooking down the first batch of strawberries I started thinking of this Cherokee story I've learned about where strawberries come from.
One day a man and a woman, who were deeply in love, were having an argument. This argument became very heated, and eventually, hurtful. Angry, hurt, and confused, the woman stormed off.
At first, the man was so upset and hurt that he was glad she left. He paced up and down, thinking about how glad he was that she was gone, because she was such a pain, and it was so much work to be with her, and she was always challenging him. He remembered all the times she made him mad, and all the times she gave him a hard time and he learned from it. He remembered how much he had changed since he fell in love with her, and how much he loved her.
He remembered how much he loved her! Where was she? How far had she gone? Can he catch up to her, or was she lost forever?
"Creator," he prayed, "we got into an argument and we were hurtful, and now she has left me and I need to catch up to her. Can you help us?" And off he ran, praying in his heart that he wasn't too late.
The woman, who was by now very far away, had stopped crying enough to see that a big bramble of raspberries was in her path, and the fragrance of the ripe berries called to her to stop and eat. But she was stubborn, and heartbroken, so she walked on. She passed a blackberry bramble in the same manner, practically tore through the blueberry bushes and didn't even see the salmonberries. It seemed as though nothing would slow her down, and as she walked she thought about how good she felt that she didn't look back, that she kept walking away from that argument, that man, and her love.
This thought slowed her down a little.
Slowing down a little was just enough for Creator to try one last thing: he placed another berry plant right at her feet, a berry plant with beautiful red fruit that was shaped like a heart.
The woman had never seen berries like these before. And as she knelt down to pick one of these berries, these little hearts which smelled tart and sweet, she felt her own heart open up again. And turning around, she saw her man running to catch up to her.
We talk of the strawberry as being a symbol of our heart: our sweetness, our ripeness, and our gentleness. The fruit is the fruit of our lives; our prayers manifested. The strawberry also reminds us to slow down, and look around, so that we don't miss the small things that may make such a difference to us. That no matter how slighted, wounded, unlucky, or heartbroken we may be, if we can remain present and aware we might just find the healing that we need--we may find a new beginning. And also, the strawberry reminds me that Creator does want me to find love, and that he's helping me out even now.
I thought of all this as I cooked down the first batch of strawberries, the little hearts. And I thought of my beloved friend, with whom I got into a serious misunderstanding/fight last night. And how we both set off major triggers in each other, such that we were reacting and upset, and how we got off the phone in such a bad way, and how I got the feeling that he was upset enough that he was walking away, and not coming back.
And so, even though he is not my lover or my boyfriend or whatever, he is still very dear to me and I send out a prayer to Creator, that even though my friend is upset that he'll look down and see the strawberries that I pray Creator is sending out to him, and I pray that maybe as he stops to nourish his own heart with these little berries he'll turn around and greet me with forgiveness and a chance for a new beginning.