Today a friend and I loaded up her van with our children and headed out on a strawberry picking adventure. Since her children are close in age to Gates, he was absolutely delighted. He had friends to play with! It was a long way to go for some strawberries, but despite the chaos from the back seat it was fun. The kids enjoyed the berry picking place, including the fact that the place came attached with two MORE children who were close in age to ours. Children who showed them the puppy, the goat, and the kittens (I’m assuming there were kittens since it is the only word Indy uttered on the entire trip.)
First, let me just say that my friend way out picked me in the berry picking department. I guess that one week I spent as a paid berry picker about a zillion years ago didn’t help me much! OK, I was slow even then.
But being alone in a berry patch searching for the elusive red dots gave me time to think. If you’ve never picked berries before, you need to understand that the best way is to get down, push the leaves aside and really look for them. If you just walk down the rows looking for glimpses of red you will miss a lot of berries. Strawberries aren’t something you search for from a distance, you have to get intimate with the plant, touch it, and search through its leaves. That’s often where the best berries are hiding. Oh, sure, you will still see them just by walking, but the point isn’t the ones you find, it’s the ones you miss. If they are missed by enough people eventually they will rot and fall to the ground.
People are like that too. We can get to know parts of a person from a distance; we can love them and find many beautiful character traits to admire. But when we keep ourselves distant, when we don’t allow ourselves the chance to really dig in, to search the hidden depths of another, how many more treasures that they have to offer go undiscovered? And how many people give up on dreams; losing cherished parts of themselves because no one takes the time to get to know them and to encourage them in their dreams?
Consider that in your relationships. Look for the hidden parts of the people you think you know. Encourage their secret dreams, the hidden talents, the surprising character trait. Sweet surprises wait under the leaves; don’t miss out by walking by too quickly.