The sun was rising above the horizon when Emma and her twin sisters, Rebecca and Anna, left to go to their springtime job at Yoder’s Strawberry Acres.  The dew was still heavy in the air, and the birds were starting to wake up from their nighttime slumber as Emma was excited at the thought of seeing her best friend Katie and paid no attention to her sister’s bantering.

Rebecca was complaining about having to get up so early, and Anna was trying to get her out of her sour mood to enjoy the beautiful morning.

“Don’t you just love the smell of spring?” Anna said as she tilted her head to the morning sun and put her arms out and twirled in front of them.

“Quit being so silly. Why do you have to be so chipper in the morning? You’d think you’d be tired after staying out half the night.” Rebecca snapped back at her.

Anna knew her sister was poking fun at her and was not going to let her have the last word. She walked up beside her, put her arm around her shoulder, and sneered.

“You’re just jealous.”

“I’m anything but jealous of that skinny red-headed boy you’ve been spending so much time with. I don’t know what you see in him anyway?”

Emma stepped in front of them, put her hands on her hips and said.

“Would you two stop it? I swear you fight like two barn cats over a mouse! Can’t we just enjoy our walk in peace.”

Rebecca knew she was being ornery and wondered if Anna might be right.  Was she jealous that Anna was courting? She herself hadn’t been asked once to be taken home from a Sunday night singeon, while Anna had been invited multiple times.

She thought Eli might ask her last night, but when she looked his way without smiling, he turned and walked away. Eli was shy and didn’t come to the singeons much. She wasn’t sure what it was about him, but she had a soft spot for him.  On the rare occasion he got up the nerve to talk to her, she got nervous and wasn’t all that friendly. She kicked a stone on the road as she thought to herself that maybe he just wasn’t interested.

Once they crested the small hill that separated their parent’s farm from the neighbor’s strawberry fields, the sun had crested the horizon and was shining brightly.  The warm sun would feel good on their backs as they worked on picking strawberries in the dew covered rows.

Katie Yoder was standing at the end of one of the rows with a stack of baskets waiting to be filled as the girls walked up.

“Good morning.  Are you ready to start picking? We have an order for thirty baskets that need to be filled before the stand opens to the public.”

Rebecca looked at her watch and said.

“That only gives us two hours. We’ll never get them all picked by then.”

Anna piped in with, “Sure we can, it’s only ten baskets apiece, plus the one mamm wants us to bring home so she can make a strawberry pie for Datt, we can do it.”

Katie counted out three stacks of baskets with ten baskets each and placed them at the end of the rows.

Amish Short Story - A Thankful Heart

“I have reinforcements on the way.  My datt told me to round up a few extra hands, and it wasn’t hard to find a few kids that wanted to earn some extra cash. You can start on these three rows, and when they get here, I’ll start them at the other end.”

Rebecca grabbed a couple of baskets and sat down at the beginning of the row. She was still grumbling under her breath when a voice behind her caught her attention.

She was surprised to see their neighbor Mary standing in the row behind her.  The old woman was using her cane to steady herself as she lowered herself the ground. She was humming a tune Rebecca didn’t recognize and had a smile as big as the sun on her face.

“For heaven’s sake Mary, what are you doing here?  If you wanted strawberries, we can pick them for you.”

“I love picking berries and what better way to feel the Lord then sitting in the middle of a berry patch. I heard the Yoder’s pay by the basket, and it’s good for me to add a little extra money to my rainy day fund.  You never know whose needs might be greater than mine and I like to be prepared.”

Rebecca turned back around and started picking as Mary continued to talk.

“Just look at the way the sun is bouncing off the strawberries. Isn’t it pretty?”

Rebecca couldn’t understand why Mary was always so happy.  She’d lost her husband two years ago, all of her children had grown up and moved away, and the leg she’d almost lost in a buggy accident kept her in constant pain.  When she turned her head, she saw Mary lift her face to the sun, and in a whisper, she heard her say.

“Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this season. Thank you for all you’ve provided for me today, the warmth of the sun, and the sweetness of these berries. But most of all help me spread some of your sunshine to someone who may need your warmth today.”

Mary could sense that Rebecca was in a foul mood by the scowl on her face. When she walked up to Katie and asked where she should start picking, she told her to pick whatever row she wanted.  She knew it was Gott who led her to spread some sunshine on Rebecca that morning. She loved life and no matter what obstacles she faced and knew if she kept a thankful heart the Lord would appreciate her attitude.

Rebecca kept on picking but couldn’t help but ask Mary a question.

“How do you stay so happy?  I never see you down, and you always have a smile on your face.”

Instead of answering her she recited an old Amish Proverb.

“If you can’t have the best of everything make the best of everything you have.”

Rebecca couldn’t help but smile as she remembered the Proverb which was similar to the Bible verse she read last night.

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. PSALM 118:24

Just being around Mary made her feel better.  She didn’t like being ugly, and furthermore, she didn’t like thinking so much about herself that she failed to appreciate all the beautiful things Gott put in her path.

They didn’t say another word to each other as they continued to fill their basket.  Mary could sense that her attitude had rubbed off on her young friend and Rebecca felt a sense of appreciation for what Mary had shared with her.

Rebecca sat up straight to stretch her back and looked down the row she was picking.  At the opposite end of the row, she saw Eli.  He was looking her way, and instead of turning away she gave him her warmest smile and waved a friendly hello.  The nervous look he had on his face changed to a big smile when he saw her smile at him.

She felt her face get flushed as he smiled back.  She couldn’t help but think that maybe it was her attitude that was keeping Eli from approaching her.  Maybe Mary had helped her see more than the way the sun bounced off a strawberry, just maybe she had shown her that a happy, cheerful heart can be seen as much as it can be felt.

When she turned around to tell her thank you, she was no longer in the row behind her.  She looked across the field and saw the old woman.  Cane in one hand steadying her steps and a basket half filled with strawberries in the other. She closed her eyes and turned her face to the sun just as she’d seen Mary and Anna do.  Instantly she felt the warmth of the sun fill her soul, and she knew He had sent Mary to remind her how to have a thankful heart.

Photo by Jim Fisher