Blackberry Canes

    “Blackberry Canes,” Liahona, March 2016, 44

    Blackberry Canes

    Latter-Day Saint Vocies

    Illustration by Stan Fellows

    Blackberries grow like weeds on the western coast of Canada. The plants sprout and grow everywhere and will take over everything they can reach—fields, sidewalks, roads, and beaches are lined with blackberry cane. In the fall neighbors work together to pick berries to use in their homes.

    As I joined in picking blackberries one year, I was determined that not only would I pick enough to make jam for myself and my family, but I would also make extra to give to the sisters I visit teach. The best place to pick blackberries in my neighborhood was down by the elementary school, where pathways and fields are lined with brambles reaching eight feet (2.4 m) high. I had already been there picking the week before, and I knew many others had already gone there as well, so it was likely that there wouldn’t be much fruit left.

    As I prepared to pick berries again, I thought I would try picking in a different place. Out my kitchen window I could see a vacant lot next to the street. Hardly anyone went by there, and canes were spreading out over an acre of land. Surely there would be lots of fruit where no one had picked. I put my buckets in the back of the car and headed over.

    Soon I was hot, scratched, and perplexed as I stood in the middle of the acre of brambles. The canes were barren, full of thorns but without any sign of flowers or fruit. I had found exactly three berries in all that land, and I couldn’t understand why. My jam jars, however, still needed to be filled, so I headed over to the school to see if any fruit was left there.

    When I got to the school fields, I found even more berries than I needed and more still ripening, even though many people had already picked there. I suddenly recognized what had happened: blackberry canes produce much more when their fruit is picked. Because our neighborhood had shared this patch for years, the canes responded with crops year after year. Where the canes had not been used, they had remained dry and fruitless. Through sharing that blackberry patch over the years, we had created abundance—there was more fruit than all of us collectively needed.

    This experience reminded me of how tithes and fast offerings work. The Lord has promised us that when we pay tithing, He will open “the windows of heaven, and pour [us] out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (3 Nephi 24:10). In sharing what we have through inspired programs of the Church, we create temporal and spiritual abundance for our families, our communities, and ourselves.