“The Fruits of My Labors,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 54–55
When my sister-in-law dropped off several boxes and baskets of plums at my home one afternoon, I had mixed feelings. She had been preserving the fruit for days and had decided to share her bounteous harvest.
After my family ate our fill of raw plums, I shoved the boxes and baskets of ripe fruit into a corner of my laundry room.
Several days later, I began preparing to bottle the plums. I dragged the boxes of fruit into my kitchen. The August day was already getting hot. I mopped my brow with my sleeve and shoved the remains of breakfast aside, then found my cookbook and flipped to the canning and preserving section. Before I started reading, though, I decided to check on my six children and enlist the help of the older ones.
Mairi, my oldest daughter, was practicing the piano in preparation for a recital, so I gave her a grace period before asking her to help in the kitchen. Scott, my oldest son, reminded me that this morning was his summer science class. Because I needed to get a few more canning supplies from the store, I offered to drive him to class. Cindy and Ellen, ages six and seven, were keeping three-year-old James happily involved in the sandpile. When it was time to leave for class, Scott found me kneeling in the cool sand with them, laughing and forming sand castles.
It was midday when I got back. The children needed lunch, and Holly, my baby, was ready for her nap. We ate peanut butter sandwiches, and then James came to me with a storybook. We sat down and read while I nursed the baby. Then it was time to pick up Scott. We were late, but he was busy discussing the life cycle of the honeybee with his teacher and didn’t notice.
Back home, I put Holly into her walker so she could spin around under my feet while I canned—but then Ellen informed me that her goldfish had died and needed a funeral, and afterwards we discussed life after death. My husband was home from work before I ever got to those plums.
Long after everyone went to bed, I finished wiping sticky stuff off my kitchen counters and stove. Tired, I sank into a semi-sticky kitchen chair and looked at the seven bottles of ruby globes cooling on my counter. I had bottled a total of thirteen quarts, but one had broken in the boiling water and five had not sealed. I hadn’t done very well with my plums. I reviewed the day. So many times during that day, I had been sidetracked and let myself be called away from the business of canning.
But the Spirit whispered peace to me as I realized that I had done well, and I felt joy as I thought about my six children, all gleaming, full of promise, and sealed up. And at that moment I saw that, like Mary, I had chosen the better part instead of being “cumbered about much serving” (Luke 10:40). I was filled with a sudden joy as I listened to the clock tick and looked at the full fruit bottles. Instead of being “careful and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41), I had participated with my family in the many joyful moments of an ordinary August day.