We used to live in a too-small, too-crowded house with too many children. Our small deck was my sanctuary where I created a container garden. One season I decided to plant strawberries. When I went looking for starts at my favorite nursery, I couldn’t find “regular” strawberries, just some little alpine varietal. Being the lazy gardener that I am, I bought them and figured they would be fine. They grew well and created the tiniest bits of strawberry you ever saw. It was a disappointment to be sure, until I discovered that my beloved, who is ambivalent about “regular” strawberries, loves them. Their tartness is totally her jam, a perfect little treat. It became a gardening ritual to harvest them every few days and make an offering to her of the day’s tiny handful of tiny berries.
When we moved to our current home, we had plenty of dirt for actual gardening. Many of my plants moved out of their containers and into the dirt. But my wooden strawberry container just landed on top of the dirt. Over time the roots made their way right through the bottom and into the soil, and small strawberry plants started to pop up around the container.
When the water heater needed attention, the repair guy moved the container to get access, thereby ripping out the roots of the strawberries. They did not recover. A few months later a couple of young men fixed our leaning fence and successfully trampled the renegade berries that had been growing outside of the box. When I went to my favorite nursery to replace my berries, I could only find “regular” strawberry starts. It was a disappointment to be sure. But being a lazy gardener, I let it go and replanted that section of the garden with different plants.
Upon returning from a recent trip, I checked on my garden and suddenly there are new strawberry plants popping up everywhere. It turns out they have a staying power that I had not anticipated. And now I am anticipating a new crop of tiny tart berries.
In spiritual direction this week a client and I were reflecting on a period of growth in their life and my strawberries became a metaphor. What had appeared to be not so generative and definitely not linear turned out to have unexpected offerings and a kind of staying power that is supporting their emerging direction. Amen. It turns out that you never really know which experiences, skills, connections, pieces of yourself will stay with you, popping up again and again in unexpected places with unanticipated offerings.