417 Jars of Plum Jelly

Recently we made 417 jars of plum jelly. Wild plum jelly is sacred in our tent. The tradition goes back many generations. The wild plums grow all around the land where I grew up. They are small, sour plums. The person who picks them, usually suffers from chiggers (red bugs) days following the picking day. It is a small sacrifice, respected by all who enjoy a jar of jelly at the breakfast table in the middle of winter. Each year, we wait to see if these small plums survived the last freeze of the season. This year, they survived.

Outside my mother’s house are a cluster of plum bushes. She lives a few hours aways from our tent. During our morning talks, she gives me a plum update and a subtle hints about visiting. At first the hints were calm. Then the hints increased. Here is a glimpse into the daily plum report:

  • Early May: The plums are ready and I am picking them every day. I think we will have a lot this year.
  • Mid May: The plums are ready. Today I picked more than yesterday. The plumber (he was by helping with something else) even picked the ones on the top. I gave him a bag to take home. Are you coming to visit anytime soon?
  • Early June: I am freezing them. I am running out of room in my TWO freezers. Do you think you can buy some jars? I bought three 25-pound bags of sugar today. We will need Sure Jell, too. I am still picking plums.
  • Mid June: Come help me. When are you coming to help?

We arrived on a Monday night. Three generations gathered in the kitchen. Immediately we noticed the signs located in six different stations. We noticed large cooking pots and colanders, lots of sugar and many jars. Then we honestly confessed, “But we do not know how to make jelly!” Our confession was met with a gentle smile and a kiss goodnight. Tuesday morning we learned how to make plum jelly!

There is something spiritual about making plum jelly. At some point in our lives we are all like the plums. We grow wild. We need people around us who love us enough to pick us and bless us. We need to be purified and boiled down to our true selves. Then our life is simply sweetened with cups and cups of good grace.

It’s a process. It takes many small moments of vision, patiences and dedication to grow in faith. It also needs one secret ingredient, Jesus. Jesus is like the Sure-Jell of jelly. Anyone can pick, process, boil, mix and can a plum. But Sure-Jell is the one ingredient that makes sure the sweet, gooey, messy mixture stays together. Without Sure-Jell and Jesus, we would never stick together and be formed into something new.

This week, enjoy something sacred in your tent. The more sugar the better!

This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world.

1 John 4:17

From our Happy Tent to Yours,

Meredith Bell