“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”


Proverbial statements often contain much wisdom. When they come to mind, it might be a fitting opportunity to ponder what deeper truth they contain. This proverb came to my mind while pruning raspberries with my wife this morning.

We live in a time of unusually rapid change. This is not just how things ‘seem;’ it is the reality we face. Multiple factors are at work here. One, surely, is that some people have much to gain by peddling change—whether to advance their business, or their social agenda.

Another factor, it seems to me, is that people have lost confidence in things that do not change—i.e., things that stay the same. I will take one example: what it is to be human and what constitutes a truly good life. Human life is a gift: a gift that despite having glorious variations nonetheless has a definite structure. The main lines of a good human life—both of doing it oneself and sharing it with others—will always remain the same. And it is always within our reach, if we have the humility and the courage to discover it, receive it, and enact it.

Today is a magnificent spring day—the kind on which you feel with gratitude your kinship with plants and animals. As we knelt on the warming earth on opposite sides of a row of berries, weeding and trimming, my wife and I were almost overwhelmed. Raspberries! They spoke to us with a voice age-old and ever new.

It is always about life. Cultivation, patience, attention to the basics: these are always what matters. Fidelity to the gift of nature bears fruit. There are no exceptions. This does not change, even while so many other things do. Indeed, if we have eyes to see, the frenetic change around us can bring this into clearer focus.

Perhaps especially when in spring we notice again so many simple things that do not change. In the beautiful natural world.

Sure, sometimes raspberry plants will die, or they will not bear fruit, or the fruit we hoped, this time. This too is part of the gift, of what they teach. For eventually we discover that for us humans it is the same, but also different. No labor done in love is ever finally lost. By an inexorable law it will bear its fruit.

A fruit that will last, beyond this spring, and forever. And how incomparably sweet it is.

~ ~ ~

In this photo, you can see the tiny buds of the blossoms that will grow into berries. One day. 

I plan to take a video to encourage you, if possible, to plant a few raspberries in your yard. In any case, I’d be happy to share some images of mine. Coming very soon…

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