Picking olives and the power to choose....? ~ Romancing Italy

Nov 19, 2008

Picking olives and the power to choose....?

November is olive picking season!
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be
content whatever the circumstances. Phil 4:11

If someone told me that one day I would be sitting on a Calabrian mountainside, in a crude yet sturdily built shack of galvanize sharing bread and wine with the locals, I would have smirked, "Yeah, right".

But my life has brought me to this very point. From a previous post you'll discover that I love music and art and hopefully I am cultivating an appreciation for opera. But as with all of us, we have many sides that make us diverse and interesting. The other side of me loves what is wild and standing on the hill on a stormy morning, with a cool wind whipping my hair around my face, I felt an overwhelming freedom.

Looking off into the distance toward Greece, the horizon was blotted out by the dark grey cover of pelting rain. The almost black clouds were often lit up by flashes of sheet lightening and the occasional fork that stretched its fingers toward the sea.

It didn’t take long for large, heavy raindrops to compel us to search for refuge. Another couple, picking olives in their field below us, beckoned for us to join them in their hut. We crammed into the small galvanize hut built to store tools and buckets for the work at hand. We sat on crates and pieces of chopped trunks around a small fire near the door. Since there was no proper outlet for the smoke, it poured out the gap between the walls and the roof, and escaped out the open door.

Southerners are very friendly, hospital people and share what they have even if it is not a lot. They were all concerned that I eat well and pretty soon a crate, covered with ricotta cheese, a delicious red tomato, raw bacon, hot peppers and cheese appeared in front of me. Bread was passed around and broken, soon followed by a bottle of wine. I love eating like this; simple, nourishing, and tasty and washed down with wine.

Five faces deeply etched from years of hard work, sorrows and joy were at this moment creasing with laughter as they bantered back and forth in the unintelligible language of the Calabresan. The soft light barely reached the corners to illuminate them, but I felt the contentment that radiated from each; the acceptance of the day and the pleasure of each others company. And considering the pouring rain and unusual hail that pounded the soil, halting a perfectly good day’s work, their peace came from the lifelong habit of accepting what comes, and adjusting themselves to doing something else. It’s usually a tough or losing battle to fight against nature.

I walked outside, my shoes sinking silently into the softened soil. With the rain gone, the only sounds, other than a distant chain saw, were from the birds who had resumed flitting from branch to branch to sample an olive or two and singing melodies of contentment. They flew by, different species with their own unique flight pattern.

The thought came to me that each of us have our own pattern in life, the things we like, the things we do, the way we behave. If we try to be something else, we aren’t truly happy or peaceful; we need to discover ourselves, be happy with how we are and live life that is most natural for us. Then we won’t have an internal battle that weakens us when we are faced with the attitudes and opinions of other people.

If we were born like the birds we would instinctively know how to live but we would not have the power of choice. Like these five, we need to choose to accept things as they are; choose to focus on what is positive; and only in choosing to find the good in whichever situation we are in are we truly free.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2Cor 3:17


  1. What a wonderful moment. Isn't it great that from little ordinary moments we can get deep and meaningful insights? Good for you for taking notice of your thoughts and feelings! Great writing, too!

  2. Thanks Wendy for visiting and for the compliment. I enjoyed your writing as well on your

    http://wendysees.blogspot.com/ blog.

    Sorry that your three girls blog has run it's course. Long term friendships are precious. So I get to thank you Wendy for bringing me to writing the next line for my friends...

    Mary, Anne, Valerie and Cherie-- you are incredibly precious to me.


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