I have always looked forward to picking wild blueberries in the mountains of West Virginia. I first got hooked years ago when my boyfriend-turned-fiancé and now husband of 26 years took me to meet his grandmother, “Grams.”
The evening walk with Grams and Grams’ dear friend Barb included blueberry picking and girl talk. When Gram’s arthritis kept her from long walks and stooping over to pick berries, it was just Barb and I. And now and then, my two boys would join us. After Gram’s death, we spent our West Virginia vacations with Barb and I kept picking berries.
In good years, I gathered enough berries to make a batch of jam. One year, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday with a blueberry pie. The family favorite was always Grams’ recipe for pancakes with blueberries thrown in. I thought we would pick blueberries forever. For Barb was my scout to find the berry patches and to let us know when to plan our yearly visit in order to fill my freezer with berries. But Barb died suddenly and I lost my best blueberry-picking buddy ever.
A couple years passed and the desire to pick berries lingered and grew. This year while on vacation, I was determined to find blueberries and to start a new tradition of berry-picking with my daughter-in-law. It didn’t happen. Wrong time of the summer. Wrong place.
On the next to last day of vacation after the kids left, my consolation was a hike in Dolly Sods with a beautiful view of Canaan Valley. And a surprise. Ripe blueberries along the trail. A trail I was not familiar with. A trail that I have never ventured on before. My heart swelled with joy at the sight. Enough berries to eat out of hand. Enough berries to take home and make Grams’ blueberry pancakes.
I smiled at my taste of blueberry heaven. Then my eyes welled up. It wasn’t just about that blueberry goodness. I missed Grams. I missed Barb. I missed the time that has gone by so fast. It was about the good memories. It was about the connection with those I loved and lost. It was all about the feeling that blueberry-picking evokes in me: love and longing. I hope there are blueberries in heaven for my berry-picking buddies are waiting for me.
Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.