Apples are September’s stars. Harvest has begun. Our orchard, not yet mature enough to bear fruit, still grows strong. Newtown Pippins, planted by Jefferson at Monticello, neighbor Northern Spys, Cortlands, and Winesaps. We planted each by hand—staking, watering, wrapping, snow fencing. Now we watch and wait.
This September, a local orchard fills our apple baskets and we prepare to make our first batch of sauce. Pantry opens and spoon sinks deep into crumbly brown sugar, like moist sand in the box where I played as a child. We picked apples in the orchard back then too. Then too, I stood by my mother and peeled, cored, and sliced fall fruit. I can still smell the cinnamon. These are my favorite mother memories. Mom’s apron. Mom’s hands. Mixed aroma of apples and sugar and spice. Everything nice.
Mom is gone now. Ten years have passed since I last tasted her sauces and pies, since I stood by her side. Now, I carry on fall tradition with my daughter. She comes to the kitchen eager.
I move an apple basket beside the sink and, on my knees, search through a lower back cabinet for the peeler/corer/slicer—a cranked device, making sauces and pies with ease. I slide my pine-bough printed apron over my daughter’s head and tie it around her tiny waist. Then I set her free. One by one, her pretty hands slip apples onto prongs and she turns. Crank spins apple as it peels, cores, slices in one smooth motion. One by one, she drops prepared fruit into enameled cast iron where even heat and wooden spoon soften and smooth. Brown sugar turns tartness sweet. A cinnamon pinch completes.
We lift September to our mouths and taste. “Mmmmmm!” Warm, autumn apples transformed into sweet goodness. Mother and daughter, side-by-side.
In the midst of making sauce, we ponder our own transformations. Anna cuts an apple in half and finds a God-gift—a perfect star, perfectly centered, with rays of light shining forth.
“It’s like Jesus!” she bursts. “He’s the star of David! And He’s the center of all!”
Amazed at the sight, I reply, “Yes! Jesus is our bright Morning Star! The light of the world! And He’s making US into sweet goodness!”
Sometimes we don’t see Him till we’re peeled and cored and sliced. Sometimes we don’t find Him till we’re cut straight through. Sometimes we don’t really know Him till we’re heated and pressed—just as He was. Peeled. Cored. Sliced. Heated. Pressed. Finished with spices.
I peer into Anna’s eyes, into this tender soul adopted twice—once human, once Divine. We are being made into sweet goodness together by this perfect Morning Star. Our process takes time and sometimes we hurt. But the goodness He makes is worth our wait, worth pain endured for just a short while on our way to eternity.
One day, He will say, “She is finished!” One day, He will raise us up to Himself and sigh like we do over homemade, sugared-and-spiced sauce, and say. . . .
“Mmmmmm! Just right! Sublime!”
We can almost taste the sweet goodness of those future words spoken—His future smile seen—as we are finished, side-by-side forever with our Father.
“I, Jesus. . . am the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16