An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of August 30, 2009
issued   from the Siskiyou Mountains west of
Grants Pass, Oregon, USA


When you're picking blackberries your hands get all purple and gummy, your beard hairs get stuck to your lips, and the plastic tub tied to your belly just keeps getting heavier and heavier. Even if it's cool, as your shoulders bend forward and your arms reach into the stickery canes sometimes with little beads of crimson blood breaking out where you've been scratched, you know that the sun's radiant energy is more than an abstraction, is something tangible and powerful, something that stings your back and brings sweat on your forehead.

Sunlight flowing through empty space, falling onto Earth, onto this blackberry bramble and you, is materialized Universal benevolence. The brambles, through their leaves' photosynthesis and the solar energy stored among atomic bonds of photosynthesized carbohydrates in the berries, are intermediaries channeling the benevolence to your lips, stomach, soul, and the social and spiritual world around you. In the blackberry patch you can't help but to reflect on the flow of things, and how all this reduced to its essence might as well be called "the Creator's love."

I was thinking about all this as I picked blackberries this Wednesday because the night before a religious neighbor had handed me a book and told me to read it, saying that it provided proof for a lot of things he believed in.

The book was the predictable stuff, the author beginning with Einstein's brain but within a few pages quoting "proofs" from the Bible supporting the writer's notions on how one should go about seeking redemption.

Redemption! That concept and others going with it like "original sin" and "eternal damnation" were so out of place in the blackberry patch this Wednesday that just remembering passages from the preachy little book was like having a dark cloud pass between the sun and me.

For, when you are admitted into the intimate relationship of sunlight --> blackberry bush --> sweet fruit --> poetry & song & moving about, it's clear that there's no redemption needed anywhere, that the Universe isn't structured so that the most exquisite of the Universal Creative Force's Earthly creations -- we humans with our highly evolved brains -- get born needing to be "saved."

If there is "sin," then sin is willingly constraining the mind and spirit with so many imagined complications that you're unable to recognize and relate to the sun/blackberry/human/spirituality landscape.

And if you want "proof" of this spiritual insight, then go blackberry picking on a sunny day when butterflies are flitting, birds are singing, and the berries are as perfectly ripe and sweet as they have been here this week. Facebook Icon.