Ashlie Miller: Beneath the red plum tree

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2024

By Ashlie Miller

Those who walk our neighborhood will see a nook with a red plum tree, lenten roses, a small rose bush and butterfly bushes. It is a sweet habitat for small-winged creatures. Several years ago, a friend planted the red plum tree. Very fragile and needing support at first to protect it from wind and kids playing in the cul-de-sac, it has now grown sturdy enough for a 6-year-old boy to climb its low branches and observe from his perch. On his latest climb, he scurried down with jubilant news, “I found a berry, or a cherry, or something!” He often calls out something of noteworthy excitement to his older brothers, whose affection and approval he desperately seeks. As older brothers frequently do, they ignored his pronouncement, likely in disbelief. I walked over to see his discovery and boost his confidence. Sure enough, a cherry-sized plum hidden deep in leaves of the same hue hung from a branch. My son found one on the ground, which we dissected for closer inspection and confirmation.

Perhaps the biggest surprise wasn’t just the bitter/tart taste but the fact that in having this tree for over six years, none of us had noticed this was a fruit-producing tree, assuming it was like a Bradford pear. Although the fruit is more for the birds than humans, we still have overlooked it. Has it been bearing fruit for a few years? Have birds been feasting before we could ever behold the plums? Or have we just not been as careful to delight in what has been there all this time? Perhaps I should ask Darrell Blackwelder, the actual plant expert around here, these questions, and maybe even then, I would be embarrassed by the answer to the latter question.

I wonder what other delights in my everyday environment have become so familiar that I miss savoring, observing and enjoying them. What about those birds who likely feed on those not-quite-right-for-human-consumption plums? How beautiful that their Creator supplies a fruit safely camouflaged from other creatures, namely us — a special grace for the smallest winged creatures. How much more our Creator has special grace and provisions for us! Both sinner and saint alike can enjoy much, thanks to common grace, but much sweeter nectar awaits those who make the Creator their Lord.

My son was in a divine moment and likely will not fully appreciate it for years. Still, I could see it captivating his spirit as he shared the news of his discovery and rushed to capture the moment not with an iPhone but slowly with a drawing while sitting beneath a tree.

Lord, may I slow down and take time to soak in the divine lessons among the seemingly common.

Ashlie Miller can get lost for hours watching her children play outside and delight in their discoveries. You may share your discoveries with her at

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