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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

September Watermelon

September watermelon. Those two words don’t belong in the same breath, but there it is, a remnant ripe on my kitchen counter. It’s an old summer habit.

I heft the melon from bin to cart and roll summer through Kroger aisles to the checkout lane. I forgot my earth-friendly shopping bags again, so all but the 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 the front of the cart.

Seasons roll in on wobbly wheels and vibrate out metal carts on parking lot pavement. The young man and I raise our voices slightly to converse. We are acquainted by years of summer-to-summer seasons in which we push cranky carts through blistering three-digit heat and over ice in the winters.
He has a stutter that makes him lonely and a mind that is slow, and like me, he lives a tad out of season.
He loves the sweet, thirst-quenching taste of summer.
He loves the hot air balloon festival each September. And he likes the two together.

Watermelon in Shopping Cart
September watermelon, a remnant of summer, the last hurrah. I want to slice the watermelon right there in the parking lot.
I want to break open summer for the last time this year and share it with him.
I’d like to celebrate his simple love for the one who made watermelon, summer, and September and who understands stuttered prayer.

We would sink our teeth into thick melon slices and wear the rindy smiles, juice dripping down our chins and, for a moment, summer would not be a back road rounding a bend.
We would celebrate it all and celebrate Him who is as 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.

The young man sets the watermelon in the back of my minivan, and I drive slowly along the back road home. I carry summer in arms that aren’t ready to embrace what comes next. I hear the rumble of the unknown that doesn’t take the back road slow but instead accelerates and is in my driveway before I know what season I’m in.

I set my watermelon carefully on the kitchen counter. I own it, and there it balances, a yellow spot off-center on its back side. That's how I pick watermelons. I look for the yellow spot. Sure, I might thump it too, but that's only for the benefit of anyone else at the watermelon bin. Honestly, I have no idea what tone to listen for when thumping, except  for a mushy soft tone. I know that much. But what I really know is the tell-tale yellow spot that says, “I have been unmoved.”

That’s how I feel at times, immovable, when I have no choice but to remain still.

I've lain still while rough shod panic has stomped me near straight into the mattress and I've split open between "Somebody please pick me up and cart me off somewhere other than here," and "What is this strange vine language coming out of me and saying things like, "O Lord my God, in You I put my trust" when I can barely trust the next breath to come. Yet, a deep red heart grows sweet on the vine and matures sweeter still in the Indian Summer.
This is the patch, and I have the vine to cling to.

“I am the vine,” says Jesus, and “I am the Word.” I’m becoming fluent in vine language and, really, it's the only language worth knowing, because isn't plain English too hard sometimes? I think so.

Heart-Shaped Watermelon

Once a farmer in Japan grew a heart-shaped watermelon. Who ever heard of such a thing? But he did. It was in the news. I painted the photo posted there, and remembered the promises given by the Exodus Angel of increased borders.

It means a lot when borders are about the size of a mattress.
I love Texas-grown watermelon, especially the last one in September.

The long knife cuts deep and divides the melon. Two halves roll away from one another, and there are the seeds embedded in the deep red heart. They are diluted to pink by the water running from the melon’s sides.

The juice forms pools in wooden cutting board ridge.

Sometimes this takes my breath away because I recognize Jesus, and me, in this together.

Jesus, full of holy seed, labored on wood cross until blood and water ran down the wood and pooled.

I, full too, labor for the next breath and His word just typed into thinnest wood constructed paper is as long knife cutting deeply till my heart's split wide open and whatever seeds are there-may they be holy. 
It's a little messy in the muddy patches, life. Sometimes it seems to get snagged up a little painful in the thorns of Devil’s vine the likes of what grows rogue up the trunk of the Crepe Myrtle out front. I've tried to kill it, but it won't go away.

Thing is, snagged or pierced, if holy seed-love of God-is in my heart then the real reason I can't be moved isn't because I'm stuck but because His love holds me though thorns make my heart bleed and my eyes water.
Sure, sometimes I can't be moved because I'm too worn out by the messy, but I also can't be moved because the blood and water of the Son of God lay claim on me.
And I can’t be moved because, by God’s help, I don’t want to be.
 So I ripen on my knees.
I really don’t know when it happens, the ripening. All I know is that my knees hurt and that I'm thinking about going to the garden aisle at Home Depot to buy kneepads, but then remember there’s a spare life preserver in the garage from the boat.
Does God laugh delighted, while I rummage for it. Surely. He must delight at stuttered prayer from a child kneeling on her bright yellow life preserver.

Praying Yellow

will cling to the vine-Lord, make it so-till I'm ripe behind the rind of my soul and till my heart is impregnated with His seed.

I will to be unmoved.
I will to be unmoved on my own patch of earth at the foot of my bed.
My knees are marked with pressure spots. I have my own yellow spot that has borne my weight while I ripen as fruit on the vine, morning hours, high noon, night time.
Still I kneel here; crack open the heart of God.

Still I open His Word; smooth the pages back with the flat of my hand and bow my head over it.

The Word of God magnifies who He is, reflects His heart, and it’s changing who I am and changing my heart.
My prayers have changed.
They've changed because His word is sharper than a double-edged sword and it’s gotten into me-just lanced life on this patch where I ripen. And where the vine conducts His very life into my spirit’s vein, marrow, and heart.
I feel the cut.
Yet, somehow there is exultation and triumph in it for me. I don’t understand how that works. It just does.

“You are like the sweetest watermelon at a hot air balloon festival in September.” It’s my own psalm to Him. “You are to me as cold watermelon on a thirsty day.”

I celebrate Him as I sink my teeth into a thick slice of melon.

Juice drips down my chin.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

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