holding infinity in the palm of my hand or the parable of the plum trees

Hiroshige (I), Utagawa, Uoya Eikichi,  The Plum Garden at Kameido Shrine , 1857 (Image courtesy of the  Rijksmuseum )

Hiroshige (I), Utagawa, Uoya Eikichi, The Plum Garden at Kameido Shrine, 1857 (Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand,

And a Heaven in a Wildflower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour."

--William Blake

"She took of the fruit, thereof, and did eat." --Genesis 3:6

We have two stout plum trees growing near our driveway. In the late days of summer, the heavy branches drop their fat, purple orbs onto the ground below, only to be squashed by our heedless feet or two-ton tires.

"Like tossing pearls before swine," the trees sigh. 

The inelegant deaths of these plums are honored, at least, by the beautiful, blooming rorschach stains they leave behind.

And then there is that rare plum fortunate enough to avoid such a fate, plucked straight from the branch and admired.

"See," I say to Jacob, "it looks like a tiny purple globe with veins that curl along the borders of Africa and Europe."

I cradle the plum in my hand, look closely at its freckled, wine soaked skin, hold its curve in the middle of my tongue, and bite down into its bittersweet flesh. We find joy in this exchange, the plum and I. Together we have fulfilled the measure of our creations.  

Here is a truth I have learned: 

Every moment of our lives is a road diverging. With each breath, the universe gives us two choices: to engage with the holiness of that moment or to ignore it. Every slipping second we have on earth gifts us with beauty, truth, and transcendence if we will only choose to embrace the holy.

I don't often remember this. Actually, I rarely remember this. But when I do look toward the plum trees and hold their orchid hued offerings in my hand (instead of unceremoniously squishing them beneath my distracted feet), I am blessed with the most poignant and precious remembrance of God, an entity so merciful and full of good graces that He would embed Heaven in every mundane moment of our lives, in every mottled plum, in every poet's wildflower. 

Fruit in hand, I am blessed with the knowledge that we need only to choose, and Eternity is ours.