He wore faded overalls and a khaki shirt buttoned at the collar. He was leaning against a rusty red pickup parked along the side of a Texas farm-to-market road. On the hood of the truck were two shiny, one-gallon buckets still bearing labels for institutional green beans. The buckets were now filled to the brim with dewberries, those black-purple knobs of sweetness that God surely intended to be converted into cobblers.
The dewberry man’s weather-worn expression never changed as cars whizzed by. He would occasionally wave at a passing motorist, but there was no joy in his hand signal—just a jerky, open- palmed left to right motion,
I was puzzled how a man could make a living selling just two gallons of dewberries from an impromptu store. It seemed obvious that, no matter what the price per gallon, he just couldn’t. This had to be supplement to his regular income (more likely a social security pension than royalties from plays he had penned, judging by his appearance).
Why would a man in his seventies stand beside the road to sell two gallons of dewberries to supplement his income? The question burned into my brain for miles and miles.
I concluded that he did it because it was the way made available to him. If he had been a sculptor, he would have created a statue. If he had been a painter, he would have converted canvas into a landscape. If he had been a storyteller, he would have covered blank paper with a tale of wit and charm. But he obviously was none of those. This man was maybe a retired farmer. The avenue for extra income available to retired farmers is to harvest a little of nature’s bounty and offer it for sale.
I spent a few miles imagining how God must feel when he sees one of his children doing the best he can with what he has. I am sure the Creator sees dignity in work of every kind that he rejoices in even our smallest sales.
It was his Son who said, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name will not lose his reward…” The simple act of sharing the most ordinary of products was not ordinary to Jesus. He saw every transaction as an opportunity to express care for one another, to share not only stuff but self.
I made the dewberry man $5 richer that day. But he made me much richer.
~Joe Buser, 1992 March 21st Christian ~