I am doing a lot of this at the moment, and as well as emerging from the fruit cage with bowls of juicy red fruit, I also seem to collect scratches down my arms, and hair full of insects and twigs. My husband’s irritation and blood pressure has been rising, as the protective fruit cage has become more like an aviary, housing a family of blackbirds who constantly find new ways to get in as fast as we close gaps in the netting. Cherry picking has become a mixture of joy and irritation.
Strangely the term “cherry picking” can mean something rather different. In some circumstances it is used to indicate a fallacy or lie that comes from selecting favourable evidence, and suppressing other evidence, sometimes known as confirmation bias. It can even be used to mean a kind of tax avoidance. In the photograph of my cherries I haven’t shown you the split or mouldy ones, the bird pecked fruits, or the hard unripe cherries. These are “cherry picked” to give you a certain impression of the harvest, an impression which is, in fact, an incomplete and misleading picture!
This has got me thinking about the true nature of our lives. I am following Writing Our Way Home’s “Joyful July” (highly recommended). However I noticed myself feeling rather irritated by a quote yesterday from the Bible. James 1v2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” It reminded me of the rather gloomy, depressing, “always expect the worst” kind of spirituality of my childhood which I have had to work hard to recover from.
But as I have been picking cherries and contemplating this, I have begun to see this quote in a different light. True joy really does only come from embracing the whole experience, not just cherry picking the juicy nice bits. There is an increased feeling of pleasure because of the perseverance necessary to chase off the birds, and endure the scratching and stretching for the hard to reach fruits.
There is a deep joy in embracing the whole experience of our lives, resistant though we may find ourselves. We want to avoid the “trials”, whether it is a marauding blackbird, injury or loss, an unexpected tax bill, or something which contradicts our strongly held beliefs. But avoidance and denial does not bring growth and wisdom. Instead, as James continues in the quote, we need to “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.
True joy is cherry picking without “cherry picking”!