Up betimes, as Mr. Pepys has it, on Tuesday, to to wash, core, peel and stew the apples I had gathered last weekend. They were windfalls, carefully picked over to ensure that they were worth harvesting; but even so, when the bruising, the ravages if the codling moth, the peel and the cores were discarded, stewed apple, packed into containers for the freezer, didn't amount to much. But 3 1/2 pounds of apple will be put to good use in desserts, or in jam, later in the year.
It brought to mind words of Jesus about harvests, wheat and chaff; words which the smug amongst us might take pride in, as 'the elect'- the good, the wheat, the saved, even, as it were , the saved apple, going on to a new life in jam or dessert, to carry Jesus' words into my apple preparation. I would have been among these self-satisfied at one time.
But then, what about the rest- the cores, the peel, the bruised and codling moth-damaged? It has its place; in the compost bin, to be turned in time into a new life as it enriches the garden with the goodness of compost. Nothing is wasted. And surely this is so in Jesus' parables too? The ash remaining after the chaff is burned would be used on the fields as something to enrich the soil.
Jesus' parables repay close thought and interrogation. 'The kingdom of God is like....' is not an invitation to view a simple, black-and-white picture. We live in a compromised world, yet looking for the signs of the kingdom in it and beyond it.There is undiscovered treasure among the unregarded, the thrown away, the discarded; there is always the call to explore 'the beyond' in these stories, and 'the beyond' in our our prejudices too .