Peaches

Auden, age 5, enjoying a peach

I’m not sure where I read it- if it was Barbara Brown Taylor or Anne Lamott, Nadia Bolz Weber or Heather Murray Elkins- but I read once that grace is like a ripe reach. That it is so sweet, so freely given, there is nothing we can do to earn it but take a big bite and relish in its juicy goodness. I’m not a huge fan of peaches myself so the image was always a little lost me, yet it has stuck with me over the years. Grace is like a peach.

On a Saturday in August I was running errands with my daughters in tow. As the afternoon dragged on our energy and patience began to wane. The library was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back; torn away from the tablets and promise of the playground too soon, my daughters melted into puddles of tears. Only two more stops, I promised, trying to sound cheerful as I wrestled them into their carseats.

I thought our next stop would cheer them up, a trip to Farmer Tom’s produce stand. With list in hand they carried the basket which we quickly filled with corn, tomatoes and zucchini. Look at the peaches! one of them exclaimed. We want peaches, we want peaches! How can you say no when your children want to eat fruit? Only one each, I told them. Which quickly turned into two- one for each hand. They were happy— until it was time to check out and they saw the packaged snacks for sale, strategically placed by the register. Pirate Booty, gummies, and granola bars were snatched up by little hands and dumped on the counter as quickly as I put them back, my admonishments to stop, not today, put it back falling on stubborn, hangry ears. You’re getting peaches! I finally snapped, apologizing to the young woman who took me card before hustling my offspring to the van. There were tears, and squabbles, and refusals to get into their seats until I finally lost my cool. As we drove to our final stop, through sniffles, one of my daughters asked for a peach.

I wanted to tell her that peaches aren’t car food. I wanted to tell her that they’re messy, and sticky, and would drip all over her. But one look at her tear-stained face softened my frustrated heart. Just one, I said softly, passing them each a fuzzy piece of fruit.

Then…

silence.

No more crying, or sniffles, or protestations.

No requests for songs, or questioning when we got to go home.

Only the sound of their teeth breaking the skin, sinking into the ripe flesh of the fruit, juices flowing.

Every now and then a hum of pleasure as they relished the goodness of this gift they had been given.

When we finally returned home they showed the pits proudly to their father, then asked for another. We sat in the side yard as they enjoyed their peaches, the stress of the afternoon set aside. They munched on their peaches, juice dripping down their chins and onto their dresses.

A taste of grace.

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