I'm not simply talking the food of the season but the actual food I ate this very day. Making it perhaps one of my all-time favorite food days. If you're a woman of a certain age, you likely remember when 'color-draping' was all the rage, which helped a woman discover what 'season' they were. Well, when it comes to color, I'm 'an autumn,' through and through: rust and brown and plum and green. And I'm autumn in my taste buds as well, all thick soups made from squash and carrots, anything made from pumpkin, turkey roasted after sitting in brine for a couple of days--I love, love love that--and the lovely, lovely pomegranate, the fruit of love... er, of Solomon, er...well, you know what I mean.
I can't remember the first time I ever ate a piece of pumpkin pie, nor when I first tasted eggnog, though I'm pretty sure both were in my infancy. But I remember distinctly the first time I ever saw a pomegranate. It was in sixth grade and girl named Judy had part of one in her lunch. She gave me a couple of kernels (they really do look like transparent kernels of corn), and when I bit into one, the juice exploded in my mouth. It was glorious flavor.
Incidentally, another thing I remember about Judy is that she was with the group of us who went to see the movie, "Love Story" that same year. Afterwards, we went to someone's house, where we all cried like babies--seriously!--and Judy ran out into a field to cry at the edge of a fence about the sad, sad dying of Ali McGraw and the beautiful words she spoke to her 'Preppie' husband, Ryan O'Neal. When I got home that night I tried to tell my parents about it, and could hardly speak when I tried to tell them, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." And my dad, my very sensitive, tender dad, burst out laughing at me while I rolled around on the couch, sobbing. "It does not," he said, laughing. I huffed off to my room. It wasn't until years later that I really realized how infantile that night was: all those sixth grade girls being hysterical, my defending a line about love as if I knew a thing about it, and huffing when Dad said it wasn't true. I mean, Dad loved very well, thank-you very much, and he said he was sorry almost every single day. I did, however, learn from that moment that out-and-out crying at a movie wasn't going to cut it in my family, and by the time the same group (give or take a few) of girls saw "Romeo and Juliet" the next year, I didn't shed a tear. Probably helped that I'd already read the play, which most of my friends hadn't at twelve. But still, even now, I'm more of a tear-dripper than sobber when it comes to crying at sad movies.
But where was I? Oh yeah, harvest food. Pomegranates. Beve and I spent the autumn of 1983 in India and the first time I walked through a market there, where goats hung in doorways, looking like giant dogs (which is what Beve tried to tell me they were!), and flies buzzed in formation around unidentifiable candy-like substances, I suddenly stopped on a dime, a literal dime, because there was a pile of the most enormous pomegranates I'd ever seen in my born days. That I should live to see them and eat them! And so cheap, you can't imagine. They were about the size of cantelopes, the fruit contained within was a deep, deep burgundy. That, I have to say, might have been my all-time best food moment of all time, tasting that real, fresh Indian pomegranate.
These days pomegranates here are much better, often quick large, and certainly sweeter than they used to be. We can thank faster planes and refrigeration for that, I think. Better products here in the states as well. However, there's something about the first time, don't you think? I'm talking about food here, folks, keep your minds where they belong...er, out of the gutter, I mean.
Anyway, ANYWAY, pomegranates aren't the easiest of fruit to eat. Or even to have a chance to eat. They take a whole lot of careful work. Even when I cover myself, the counter, and everything else, I've had dots of pomegranate juice on our white cupboards (who the heck chose white?). No, this splendid fruit takes work. There are a whole lot of people who think pomegranates aren't worth it. All that unpeeling, all that possible staining, for tiny kernels of juice? And to them I say, ok, leave them for me. For me the work is worth it.
I don't think it's an accident that Solomon, in his great love letter, speaks of part of the beloved's body as pomegranates. There's a whole lot of work involved in caring for the body, and in caring for His Body. And sometimes that care takes a whole lot of work, time and is even stained blood red. But the fruit of that work, the luscious, glorious fruit of that work is so worth it. Taste and see that He is good. What is this fruit of His? One with many kernels, you know. This one? love. That one, joy. The next, peace. Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All kernels of the same fruit that is the fruit of the Spirit. As we work for His Body, the Holy Spirit gives us this best of all fruit...His fruit.
Hmmm, maybe my favorite fruit is His favorite fruit, too.