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The simplicity of this photo touches me: three pears, one attached to its leafy branch, one sitting on its bottom, and one sliced open, revealing its seeds and the creamy white of its fruit. Next to it lays the wood-handled knife on a plank table. A close look at the photo’s composition reveals its artistry and significance.

Featured within are four items, the number for wholeness, for balance that frames the viewer’s experience—a grounding that compels its evolution, accompanied by warm inner stirrings.

Next comes the selection of color: the yellows, dull and limish; the browns, dark and rustic; the greens, pointed and jaded; and the whites, luminous and milky. Subtle shadows set off the pears and spark desire to touch their coarse skins, to experience their sweetness.

Their stems resemble cut umbilical cords, its fruits, now on their own.  

Sharp angles contrast with roundness for added drama. The worn appearance of the knife and table suggest seasoned hands that know foods, their preparation, and presentation.

So much for my impressions of this photo.

It also speaks to my present circumstances. The first pear suggests my having been cut off from the tree of health; the second, my ripening; and the third, the cutting/transition and full revelation of my sweetness.

For the present, my ripening morphs into simplicity and I’m grateful…

Excitement buzzed outside my window this morning. It was Independence Day, its spirit given expression by masked neighbors standing around the lemonade stand. Upon it sat the blue cooler, cups, and the moneybox. No matter the oppressive heat and humidity. Soon to be eight-year-old Sloane, her brunette hair in a topknot, had initiated this gathering, supported by her parents, and it was well underway when I picked up their hilarity. Her brother Clark, barefoot and looking taller since last month, helped dispense the lemonade to the thirsty.

Toddlers milled circles around grandparents, hugged their thighs, then took off again; a dad sat in a folding chair stroking the tanned back of his daughter; Sloane made a sign affixed to a pole for passing motorists; a T-shirted mother pushed a stroller with her newborn, another curly-haired toddler at her side; other kids, in helmets, on scooters, stopped by—a whirligig of animation.

Covid threat or not, nothing could damper my neighbors’ enthusiasm. From behind colorful masks, laughter lifted spirits, released tension, deepened camaraderie—a much-needed tonic to ward off the pervading gloom.

It will pass, in time…

“Hey! Look over there! That car’s stopping!” exclaimed Sloane, already tanned in her flowered sundress and clapping her hands in the air. Excitement fused through the gyrating torsos of kids, just released for the summer from the nearby Mark Twain Elementary School. Beneath the shade of a maple tree stood a cloth-covered table lined with pitchers of lemonade and red plastic cups; coolers of ice chips flanked its corners. Mason grinned as he tended the cash box.

And so the exuberant afternoon went, with moms and dads watching. Kids from other blocks hung around the lemonade stand where they laughed, turned cartwheels, and spoke of summer plans—No matter the heat. They had their lemonade with its tart sweetness.

Such places of refreshment still soften hearts—An opportunity to enter the world of the child we once were. And it’s this same child, today, who still gets overwhelmed by the unexpected, however small or great, and seeks help at the closest “lemonade stand.” That could be a trusted friend, a solitary walk in the woods or by the ocean, a pet dog’s nuzzling her owner.

Or even more powerful: sitting still in prayer and waiting for the emergence of God’s presence. The release of tears gives urgency to the plea for comfort, for the inevitable new learning, for its assimilation within the ridges of the hurting heart. In time, its bitterness, like the lemon, is sweetened by wisdom’s smile.

 

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