Foraging for Goodness image

Foraging for Goodness

This is a wonderful illustration from Hannah Anderson's new book, Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season and Spirit. She has written before on how discernment is essentially a positive search (looking for the good amidst the ordinary or bad) more than a negative one (as per the "discernment bloggers"), and here she explains the idea using mushrooms and toadstools:

Given the dangers associated with the earth, it could be easy to skip foraging altogether. And I suppose in a modern context, we have that luxury. Who would take the risk when you can simply buy food at the grocery store? Because despite the growing interest in foraging, I know that we don’t do it for the same reasons my grandmother did or her grandmother or her grandmother before that. Foraging is peasant’s work, the gifts of the earth to those who most need it. But I also wonder if we’re missing out, if we’re missing out on morels and ramps and fiddleheads. I wonder if our search for safety means that we’re not searching for goodness.

So what are we to do? In foraging circles, the solution is simple: you learn. You learn what is good and what is bad so you can enjoy the good.

Like many such skills, foraging is primarily passed down from person to person; and in the absence of a grandmother to tell you not to eat the toadstools, you can opt for guided walks, classes, and even books. But mostly, you have to put the time in. You have to learn by doing. Because as any seasoned forager can attest, goodness does not grow in neat clumps or carefully tended rows. It is wild and you have to work for it. You’ll have to go out in the chilly spring rain and tramp for miles. You’ll have to keep a keen eye, and even then, you’ll likely miss what’s right in front of your face. You’ll have to admit what you don’t know, and in humility and patience, learn from others.

Likewise, the psalmist tells us that the earth is full of the Lord’s goodness, and in Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul invites us to forage for this goodness, neither fully accepting nor rejecting what the world offers. Instead, he invites us to search out “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is commendable.” Because if you do, if you’re humble enough to learn the difference between life and death; if you seek whatever is excellent and worthy of praise; if you look for it in the underbrush and around trees and hidden in the hillsides; if you take the time and make the effort; you’re sure to find it.

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