Faith, Life, Nature

Wise Foraging

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

My eldest daughter recently sent me a picture of golden oyster mushrooms she and her husband had wildcrafted. They looked fabulous. Yet, I admit that my initial reaction was alarm.

Where did you find those? Are you sure they’re safe? Are you actually going to eat them?

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE mushrooms, both as food and as organisms. A few years back, my husband and I hiked in the rainforest of Washington; where an abundance of water means spores galore. The hike quickly morphed into a fungus photo shoot as we discovered one fascinating mushroom after another.

Sometime later, I stumbled on a compendium of fungi of the Northwest—a collection of exquisitely rendered botanical illustrations that now resides in the ‘nature’ section of my bookshelf.

The notion of wild edibles—herbs, berries, nuts, and other feral foods—appeals to me. I love the idea of an earthy mushroom fresh from the woodlot. On the rare occasion that a dish with wild mushrooms is on the menu, I’ll be the first to order it. However, a healthy fear of death-by-poison has limited my gathering to the easily-identifiable morel.

My son-in-law foraging for golden oysters

Foraging is currently enjoying a kind of renaissance. Recent events have heightened our awareness of how precarious our food supply is. For many of us, a glimpse into the world of food insecurity was a frightening eye-opener. Providing or sourcing food for ourselves seems only prudent. Consequently, interest in gardening, cooping (urban chickens anyone?), and food preservation exploded with the pandemic.

Wildcrafting is a natural complement to these efforts; but one would be foolish to embark on such an adventure without a trustworthy guide. The delectable mushroom or tempting berry is often danger… shrouded in deceptive allure.

Don’t’ worry, mom,” my daughter assured me, “we bought a reliable field guide, and we’re following it to the letter.” She explained the protocol recommended by this expert mycologist. By being vigilant to use photo identification and “spore-printing” they had confidence that the mushrooms they gathered were edible.

Gathering spiritual food is much the same. The fertile soil of the digital age has sprouted a world where personal beliefs, viewpoints, and ideologies flourish. A myriad of messages appear daily, packaged in appealing imagery and enticing rhetoric. And we are foraging in these digital wilds with voracious appetites.

The inherent danger is that good and evil alike are ripe for the picking.

How do we judge between wholesome nourishment for the soul, and darkness shrouded in light? Ornamented with lovely sentiments and trendy clichés the same poison served up in the Garden appears delectable. We cannot rely on our own wisdom to sort it out. We need a trustworthy guide.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

There is one definitive guide to TRUTH—the WORD of God.

All things must be tested against His infallible, eternal Word. Any message that does not align with what He says in His word—no matter how good it appears or persuasive it sounds—will bring harm if ingested.

Fruits of Foraging

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” 1 John 4:1

More than ever before, we are appreciating the incredible ability of the mind to respond to input. Current brain research is revealing the plasticity of the brain and the potential for rewiring our own thinking through exposure and repetition. This of course testifies to the wisdom of the One who designed us, and sheds light on the process of sanctification through the “renewing” of our mind (Romans 12:2).

This means that intentionality in choosing which messages to ‘ingest’ in this age of endless information is crucial to safeguard our mind. The potential to establish new neural pathways illuminates and magnifies God’s instructions to meditate on His Word—allowing His truth to soak in so that our thinking and the desires of our heart are transformed as He moves us from ‘glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The ultimate aim of the deceiver is to draw you away from the Father through cunning and deception. As Christ followers, the Spirit lives within us. We must seek His wisdom and discernment to guide our foraging.

There is plenty out there that is true and honorable, just and pure, lovely and commendable. Determine with me to “think on these things” and, above all, His eternal Word, as we journey toward the heart of the Father and seek to reflect the image of the Son.

Joyful Foraging ~ Tabitha

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