The Spirituality of Raspberries

My dad once told me, while looking up at the tops of the Georgia pines in our front yard, that the green-on-blue combination of trees against sky is proof of God’s existence. He said it could not possibly have happened by coincidence.

It’s too thoughtful. Too beautiful. Too perfect.

Raspberries are my proof. If you’ve ever picked one off a wild bush in summertime and plucked it in your mouth, you know: something like that doesn’t just happen. It’s intended.

I’m sure my dad would agree.

From a young age, Dad raised me to experience the world around me. He showed me how to appreciate the smell of snowfall. To love the constricted feeling in my lungs when I breathe in my first blast of winter air each year. He offered me the bird names. The bird songs.

Because of him, I can tell you the difference between a blue jay and a bluebird and an indigo bunting. And what the temperature high is for Anchorage, Alaska on any given day.

As we chat on the phone during my commute, Dad asks how the jonquils he planted at my first home are doing. Have they come up yet? And he’ll make an extra call in the evening just to tell me to go outside and look at the full moon. Does it look as yellow in Charleston as it does here?

Because of him, I love the warmth of a fire. The sound of fat raindrops pounding a tool shed. The soul-cleansing that is wading chest-deep in a clear stream. The subtle sweetness of nectar from a honeysuckle flower. The intricacy and wonder of seashells.

Of his two daughters, I’m the baby. I’m the carefree spirit. I’m the keeper of the bird songs.

In my 30 years, he’s shaped the gentlest corners of my being. He’s molded me into someone who laments the passing of orchids. Someone who stops halfway through her run to take in a marsh view or a fading sunset or a grazing deer. Someone who’s thankful for every clear starry night, every low-hanging moon, every first frost, every last jonquil. Someone who can’t imagine seeing the world without her father’s eyes.

Someone who finds faith in the treetops. And raspberries fresh off the bush.

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enjoy the show

Turner Field in Atlanta Gerogia
Turner Field, Atlanta, GA

I was raised on baseball. Each year, my Dad would take me to a handful of Braves games at Fulton County Stadium. Sometimes we’d make a day of it, visiting The Varsity or the World of Coke on the way.

We’d park in one of the $10 gravel lots a few blocks from the ballpark. And while we strolled by walls of graffiti toward the stadium, Dad would look at me wide-eyed with a smile and jokingly say, “Did you remember to bring the tickets?”

We sat in the upper deck, along the third base line. He would sing with enthusiasm to “Centerfield” while the team warmed up. Put me in coach! I’m ready to play today…

During those nine innings, he showed me how to score a game. We talked balls and strikes and outs. Curve balls and sinkers and sliders. Bunts and steals and double plays. I loved learning all the intricacies of baseball. Like it was a secret only meant for he and I to share.

We’d wave foam tomahawks in the air as the sun beat down on us. We’d eat boiled peanuts and soft serve ice cream out of plastic Braves helmets.

I was always restless and full of energy. By the bottom of the third, I’d be squirming in my seat. And we’d be walking the length of the stadium after the sixth.

We’d stay the whole game even if there was no hope for Atlanta to come back. We’d stay until all that was left was empty plastic cups and peanut shells.

To this day, every time I watch Atlanta play on TV, it’s like I can almost smell the hot dogs, the fresh-cut grass. Feel the roar of the crowd, the thickness of the southern air.

I’ll call my dad whenever something exciting happens. And for a moment, it’s like we’re back there together. Just enjoying The Show.