When my sons were young we made the trek from Texas to Oklahoma each year to visit family.
One of our favorite stops was when we went to Uncle Roy ‘s farm. He and his dear wife let us ride horses and putter around outside. Time we spent there taught us to slow down our pace for a game of cards or just a friendly chat.
Around the same time I took an interest in making jelly with the sand plums we picked each year at the farm. I spent many a summer afternoon performing this labor of love over a hot stove. As a teacher I had more time in the summer.
The focus of my jelly-making was Oklahoma sand plums. They are similar in size to a large grape, red and yellow in color, and tart when raw but delicious when jellied.
Then one year Uncle Roy had an apricot tree which had dropped its fruit. By that time, his wife had fallen ill and due to his caregiver duties, he had little time to mess with extra projects like these apricots on the ground.
So we picked up the fruit. When we got home, I cut off any bad parts and made the most wonderful preserves.
Like any good hobby it continued to fascinate me. I then did conserves and even branched out into other fruits although sand plums were still my favorite.
Part of the process was boiling it patiently till all that was left was the actual jelly with none of the impurities. When I held it up to the daylight, it looked pure and beautiful. And oh, the taste! It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart.
My jelly adventures taught me much about life.
I learned that to get pure jelly I first had to gently remove the bubbly scum while cooking it. There was only so much, and when it was gone, only the finest pure jelly was left.
Did I say it was beautiful?
Jelly taught me to slowly and carefully weed out the extra particles in my life which so often bubble to the surface for attention.
The reward for piece by piece putting that scum elsewhere was a chance to live life fully on purpose!
A word on the scum: It is not always bad. It is just not jelly. Calling it scum is not a negative description, but rather just the term for what rises to the top.
Even this scum taught me a lesson. It was a vital part of the process. Yet to get the full enjoyment of life I had to know when to let it go by scooping it off.
Also, the fact that it rises to the top makes it command attention. In life, we sometimes spend all our time on whatever rises to the top. Maybe there are other choices. Maybe we can actually prioritize and even simplify what we give our attention to.
Because it was full of shiny bubbles it was tempting to hang onto it. Yet when it had served its purpose it was time to release it.
So now I take the time, just as I did in making jelly, to let the scum rise to the top. Then I look one last time at all the extra stuff which I no longer need in my life, bless it, and let it go.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.