An advertisement for a writer's retreat.

Sundays take many forms for me. Our church meets on Sunday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. So, when I’m not speaking at another church, Sunday mornings are free for other activities. This past Sunday, while traditional churches were singing hymns, I worshiped in a big patch of blackberries less than 100 yards from home.

The blackberries grow along the edge of an open field that our subdivision reserves as a common area, with woods behind. I’ve been picking berries as they’ve ripened since mid-June, but usually just from the outer edge.

This time I left the dog at home, took my bucket and pressed through the brambles to discover a virtual blackberry cathedral on the back side. Shaded by milkweeds taller than Goliath and protected by fierce briers that grow even taller, the thorny blackberries offer a challenge in line with the commensurate reward of eating them.

As I bent and twisted and occasionally knelt to get at the ripe berries, I was accompanied only by bejeweled June bugs and Japanese beetles, along with an assortment of spiders and other small critters. A mixed choir of birds sang the anthem as I reflected on God’s good gift of wild blackberries and offered a prayer of thanks.

And when we went to our official church later in the day, we had fresh blackberry cobbler to share. From morning’s praise to evening’s plates, we were blessed, and my heart was glad.

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