We went to pick apples again a few days ago. I was struck by the sheer abundance, what seemed like almost a wasteful amount of apples littering the ground and hanging from those gnarled branches. Soon the trees will be bare, dormant. They will enter a season of waiting in which they do not bear any visible fruit. And all that waiting looks barren when it is actually one part of the preparation for bounty.
The Bible talks over and over again about bearing fruit in season, and for most of human history that was the only way to do it. We could only eat fresh berries and lettuce and tomatoes and pears in the summer. We could only eat bananas in oranges in certain physical parts of the world. In the winter, things slowed down. There was still work to be done, but the fields couldn’t be sown or harvested. And the nights were long. Now we live in a culture where fruit (and light) is literally available all the time. I can buy strawberries, salad greens, peppers and cucumbers and corn and peas all year long. I can work unabated throughout the night and throughout the winter months.
In many ways, I’m grateful for modern amenities like bananas in Connecticut and blueberries in January. I’m certainly glad we have electricity. And yet I think of how much the way I approach time has been influenced by the assumption that productivity can and should happen all year round. Because I am able to ignore the physical limitations (and possibilities) of each season in a physical sense, I find myself also ignoring the seasons of my life. I find myself thinking that I need to be productive in the same way right now–with three small children–as I was before they entered my life. I find myself thinking that fallow ground is barren ground, when it may simply be a necessary preparation for abundance. And when I think too much about productivity–all the blogposts I wish I had written, the book proposal that I wanted to finish by the end of the month, the essays I’ve drafted in my mind but not on paper–when I dwell too much in that place, I miss the abundance that exists all around me all the time.