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Photo from pnwhandbooks.org.

Photo from pnwhandbooks.org.

This morning, I picked up a flat of blueberries from the local farmstand.  I’m going to freeze most of them for fall and winter blueberry muffins and other such delicacies.  As I paid for my indigo bounty, I inquired about Marionberries.  For those of you who don’t know, Marionberries are a blackberry hybrid. Originally cultivated at Oregon State, it combines two different strains of blackberries indigenous to Oregon.  Most of the testing on the berries occurred in Marion County in Oregon, hence the name. Growers love them, as they grow to be both flavorful and large.  They also happen to be my favorite type of berry.

“So when will the Marionberries be in?” I asked the cheerful girl behind the counter.

“Oh, we won’t have any this year,” she said.  “We had a February frost that did more damage than we thought.  We had really cold temperatures, then warm.  The vines didn’t respond well and the berries never ripened.”

In other words, the Marionberries suffered blight. We both mourned the loss of the most succulent summer fruit. RIP, Marionberry crop of 2014.  See you next year…I hope.  I’ll have to content myself with picking our wild blackberries around our property and neighborhood.  They’ve produced pretty well so far.

Today, while in the checkout line at the grocery store, a celebrity rag headline screamed:  Beyoncé Fed Up:  “I Won’t Live With a Cheater!” Ruh-roh, Raggy! From what I gathered in a little bit of online detective work is that Jay-Z might – might – have been sleeping around on Beyoncé, People Magazine’s 2012 most beautiful woman in the world.

What the what?!

Cheating on a goddess?!  Seriously.  She’s beautiful, wealthy, smart, fertile.  What else could you want?

Of course, no proof has surfaced.  It’s all rumors.  The rumors, sources say, did Beyoncé in.  She kept laughing it off and ignoring it until she couldn’t anymore. She heard it over and over and it finally stabbed her in the heart.

This sounds like a case of blight to me. What is blight?  Glad you asked.

Blight: 

noun: blight; plural noun: blights
1.  a plant disease, especially one caused by fungi such as mildews, rusts, and smuts.”the vines suffered blight and disease”
  •   a thing that spoils or damages something. “her remorse could be a blight on that happiness”
  • an ugly, neglected, or rundown condition of an urban area. “the depressing urban blight that lies to the south of the city”
 verb: blight; plural: blights, blighting
1. infect (plants or a planted area) with blight.

Rumors, friends, cause blight. They damage the closest friendships.  They undercut sacred relationships.  They hurt people.  Remember that old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?  Wrong.  Words hurt, a lot. Telling tales  about others causes an evil report.  It plants a sickness in the listener’s heart and warps their perspective.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t tell the truth when something bad happens to you.  You need to speak up for what’s right.  I am saying that unless people in the know  – Beyonce’s friends and colleagues – informed her directly, the rest is just gossip and hearsay. It’s backbiting conversation. It sounds like the verbal equivalent of “mildews, rusts and smuts”.  Definitely smuts. The effect of all this only undermines their marriage and sows discord between them.

I hope Beyonce and Jay-Z can come back and work through any issues that arise.  I have no desire to know if, when or how Jay cheated.  I don’t care.  I do care that they don’t get torn apart by vicious rumors.  But it’s not up to me. What will you and I do to halt the blight in your own life and those we encounter?

“You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.”  – Exodus 23:1

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