I heft the melon from bin to cart and roll summer through Kroger isles to the checkout lane. I forgot my “earth friendly” shopping bags, again, so all but watermelon is bagged in plastic. I know the young man bagging. But summer can’t be bagged. Not even in September. So he places my September watermelon in the child seat at front of cart.
Seasons roll in on wobbley wheels, and vibrate out metal racket on lot pavement, and the young man and I raise our voices slightly to converse. We are acquainted by years of summer-to-summer seasons between pushing cranky carts through blistering three-digit heat and over ice in between. He has a stutter that makes him lonely and a mind that slows and, like me, he lives a tad out of season, too. He loves the sweet, thirst quenching taste of summer. He loves the hot air balloon festival each September. And he likes the two together.
September watermelon. Remnant of summer. The last hurrah. I want to slice the watermelon right there in parking lot. Break open summer for the last time this year and share it with him. And celebrate, too, his simple love for the One who made watermelon, summer, September and who understands stuttered prayer.
We would sink our teeth into thick melon slice, wear the rindy smile, juice dripping down the chin and for a moment summer would not be back road rounding a bend and we would celebrate it all and celebrate Him who is sweet as cold watermelon on a thirsty day. Not the kind without seeds, but with seeds. The kind that plants more sweet goodness and tomorrow promises.
He sets watermelon in the back end of my minivan and I drive, slow, the back road home. I carry summer in arms that aren’t ready to embrace what comes next. The rumble of the unknown that doesn’t take the back road slow, but accelerates and is in my driveway before I know what season I’m in.
Watermelon in Shopping Cart
I set my watermelon careful on kitchen counter. I own it. And there it balances, yellow spot off center at backside. I picked it out from all the others in the cardboard bin because of that yellow spot. I don’t thump melons in choosing. I look for the yellow spot. One clearly defined spot. One mark saying, “I have been unmoved.”
And I can’t be moved because, by God's help, I don’t want to be. Because life is all messed up in the muddy patches, all tangled up in devil’s vine and taking in its poison. And because I am one with my husband and my own blood and water lay claim to two daughters and two sons and the blood and water of the Son of God lays claim on me and I’m too worn out restless to do anything but ripen on my knees.
I don’t even know when it happens, the ripening. All I know is that my knees hurt and I think about going to the garden isle at Home Depot to buy knee pads, but remember there’s a spare life preserver in the garage from the boat. God laughed delighted, I am sure, while I rummaged for it. He cannot contain His smile sitting beside me, me stuttering prayer for life on this bright yellow patch of preserver.
I keep praying. Praying…praying. Reading Holy Scripture, out loud intercession, eyes fixed on the Word in front of me until it is all enmeshed inside of me behind the rind of my soul and impregnating my heart with its seed.
I have been unmoved. I have been unmoved on my own patch of earth. On throw rug at foot of bed. On knees marked. Pressure spots. Yellow spot bearing my weight while I ripen on vine beneath Son. Morning hours, high noon, days, months, years. Ripening…ripening.
I still kneel here and crack open the heart of God. His Word. Scripture page spread open before my face, all reflective sheet magnifying bright Son glory. Intensive. All God-image, God-heart, sharp sword. I pray it all out, His heart with mine, and feel the cut.
It has gotten into me, the Word. Lancing life in this patch where I ripen.
And the vine conducts His very own life into my spirit-vein, marrow and heart.
May I be full of joy, now!
“Moreover let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance” (Rom. 5:3).
Patient and unswerving endurance...All yellow spot.
“And endurance develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity)” (Ro. 5:4).
Faith approved and integrity tried. Words heavy ripe. Fleshed out where I sit on my patch of earth. Where sword glints God-image and penetrates rind to the dividing line of the breath of life and immortal spirit.
“Japanese farmer grows first heart-shaped watermelon in the world.”
I gasp on the vine where water runs thick as blood and I am one flesh with husband and children and rooted like that to this patch of life. I am not restless as before. I am ripening. Learning to count joy, to enter rest, to faith-lean.
And the Word penetrates the deepest part of my nature. Cracks it open. And the seeds lodged in my heart strain out in sticky red flow. My heart intents exposed, and His heart intends for faith, there, all mixed in. For the full faith-lean and rest of my entire personality, my nature, my character on Him.
I am here growing ripe. Maturing for harvest day. Deep red heart growing sweeter in joy and all the sweeter still in late summer drought.
I'm really not sure how it all happens. And lately I wonder if it's happening at all. It doesn't look like it, and I don't sound like it, but even so...the Word has gotten into me.
I pick up chef’s knife lying beside my watermelon and my own reflection glances back at me in wide blade and disappears into melon rind. Careful. Knife sinks deep and I guide it around widest circumference. It cracks open, juice bleeds sticky on cutting board. Seeds hidden in deep red heart are there for all the world and me to see. Found out. And aren’t seeds in the heart what the heart means? Intends? Watermelon seeds in watermelon heart intend to become watermelon.