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Pastor's Column

Learning Lessons from Raspberries

Pastor’s Column

Pentecost Sunday

May 19, 2024

Photo of raspberry bushes by Father Gary Zerr

Here in the Willamette Valley we are blessed with the perfect climate to grow berries of all kinds. Fortunately, I have been blessed with an abundance of raspberry bushes (now just starting to ripen) that grow with profusion in front of the rectory.  There is so much we can learn from the Holy Spirit when simply reflecting on a raspberry bush.

If the raspberry canes are not pruned, they will not produce. Once a cane has produced fruit, it will subsequently produce only leaves. To bear fruit, the cane must be clipped down to encourage new growth and thus more fruit. In the same way, the Holy Spirit will periodically attempt to prune us of non-bearing canes in our lives that produce no lasting fruit, but only leaves. Of course, we often resist this process of pruning because it can be painful, and thus are attached to our leaves, but the purpose of our existence is to be fruitful in the Spirit.

Sometimes the fruit is hidden. An inexperienced fruit picker will often go for the obvious berries and miss many of the others that lie hidden just underneath the leaves. Like so many things in life, changing one’s perspective will often result in seeing the hidden fruitfulness in a situation. With berries, by simply stooping low to the ground and looking up (or holding up the branches), many hidden treasures will reveal themselves. In the same way, some of the greatest graces we have, our best fruitfulness or those of others, are often hidden from sight. These take the form of sacrifices we make for others that many do not see (such as what parents do).

A frost will send the plant into hibernation. When the winter of suffering comes into our lives, we may think our lives are not worth living or we are not very fruitful. In fact, spring is coming when the plant will leap back to life! In the same way, the season of testing in our lives need not be the end of us. The Holy Spirit will keep us alive through these difficulties to bear fruit once again.

Raspberries need water and fertilizer to produce much fruit. While this may be an obvious observation when it applies to plants, why is it that we don’t realize that is also applies to ourselves? Can a Christian survive and produce much fruit without water and fertilizer? Prayer and spiritual nourishment are essential for growth in our lives! For example, if all my spiritual nourishment comes from the mass media, my spiritual life may be deformed. If I do not take time to pray, the well springs of the Spirit may begin to run dry.

What are the signs of fruitfulness or a lack of it? Saint Paul gives us a handy list in Galatians 5 where he says that we can recognize the Spirit’s presence by the presence of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. The lack of these “fruits of the Spirit” in our lives is an indication that the Holy Spirit may have some work to do! Let us pray that we will yield to the Holy Spirit more and more and thus to bear much fruit.

Father Gary ~

May 20

Perfect analogy! Thank you. I will never look at raspberry bushes again without being reminded of the fruitful lessons to be learned.


May 18

Excellent!!!! Today my raspberry will be fruitful! Thank you!

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