Yesterday, we picked olives. Not for the first time in the nine years we live here, but this time our harvest will break all records. Probably because we had a summer that wasn’t as dry as previous years, the trees are heavy with little fruits in all shades between bright green and deep purple. Enjoying the still warm autumn sun that gives everything a golden glow, we stem the olives from their branches into the buckets that hang with ropes off our necks, while balancing on our ladders to reach even the highest ones. Every now then, we empty our buckets in a crate on the ground. Bucket after bucket, crate after crate, day after day.
Last night, we counted thirteen full crates, containing fifty pounds each. Not bad for five days work, especially when considering our picking method. The Italians use large nets, which they spread out on the ground under the trees, and let the olives simply drop on the nets. When they’re done with a tree, they fold the net to collect all olives and pour them in a crate. This procedure is much faster, because don’t have to bother about aiming at a bucket. However, a prerequisite for using nets is that the ground around the trunk is cleared of weeds, sprouts etc. Unfortunately, we never manage to do this work, so we’re restricted to hand-picking.
While working, I thought back at the chat that I had the day before with my daughter, in the car, while bringing her to school. She shared with me that she finds it sometimes difficult that some girls at school gather in little groups to gossip or to make fun of other kids. She often feels she is their target. I explained that, whatever happens, she is not involved at all. “It’s their problem, not yours. You know who you are and what you’re worth. The mess around you doesn’t change a thing about you. Don’t let it influence the way you think of yourself or your behavior.”
Just as the briars and brambles don’t prevent the trees from producing olives, we shouldn’t let our circumstances determine what comes out of our hands, mouths, or minds. The weeds surely can make things look prickly, but they can’t alter our being or our purpose.
“I praise your, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14)
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26)
“I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rules, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).