A Square Watermelon?

At the opening session of a Quaker retreat that my son, Chris, and I recently attended in North Carolina, Colin Saxton (General Secretary of Friends United Meeting) sat in front of the group that was gathered and held a watermelon on his lap. We were all intrigued and began wondering what was going to happen with the watermelon and what Colin might have to say about that.

He welcomed us all, and then asked us: What do you bring with you this weekend? The good? The bad? The acceptable? The unacceptable? What do I lack? Those are powerful questions!

Then he said that he had heard that in Japan they raise square watermelons — watermelons in the shape of a cube! He showed us a picture on the screen. I turned to Chris and asked him if that was true; did the Japanese raise square watermelons? I figured he should know since he lived there for nearly four years. Colin said he didn't know for sure, but that was what he had heard. I told Colin that Chris confirmed this — that the Japanese did raise square watermelons! Chris said that they put them in containers that force the watermelons to grow into a square shape. Since refrigerators are small in Japan, they thought square watermelons would fit better and be prettier. But they are also very expensive; all fruit in Japan is expensive, but a square watermelon will run you about 100 bucks!

But that's not the shape watermelons were meant to be! They are meant to be grown in a garden into their own shape and size, and they often have scars on their exterior as part of it.

Colin said that so often we live our lives this way — distorted and misshaped. Sometimes internal or external situations end up controlling our lives, causing us to feel smothered, or hemmed in, but God invites us to a spacious place where we can allow him to transform us.

The Bible tells us to not be conformed to this world, but instead to be transformed by God. In the Old Testament, when God rescued someone, he set their feet in a "spacious" place. The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for salvation or God rescuing someone actually means "spacious place."

When watermelons are grown naturally as they should be, in a spacious place, they are not square. I am thinking of the big, beautiful, juicy watermelons that George Lacy often grows in his garden each summer!

And that's the same kind of life we are called to live — to live and grow into the person God has naturally called us to be and to become — to allow God to set our feet in a spacious place and be transformed. And our church is also called to live and grow into the faith community that God has called us to be and to become, and for us as a community of faith to allow God to set our feet in a spacious place and to be transformed by God's love.

It's not the external, or even the internal, circumstances that determine our lives. Those things may leave scars on our lives just like a naturally grown watermelon has scars on the outside, but those things don't have to define or determine our lives. God calls us to open our hearts and lives to him and to live in a spacious way — not in a small way.

Where is your life in relation to the watermelon? What things are distorting your life? What do you need to feel free?

God is inviting you and me into a spacious place where we can continue to grow and to become the people we are called to be. And as individuals, and as a faith community, we are called to encourage one another so we can grow and be transformed into the people God has called us to be — the faith community God has called us to be. How freeing!



Cathy Harris ovalCathy finds great joy in serving as co-pastor at Spiceland Friends Church and in ministering alongside the wonderful folks in our church family. She loves music and enjoys singing, playing the piano, and dabbling a bit on the mountain dulcimer, autoharp, and lap harp. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her husband, Tom, their children, and her granddog, Jack. Her greatest desire is to serve God with all her heart.

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