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Nicole Johnson reflects on the importance of searching for what really matters this Advent.     

I’d say it starts about the second week of November. The search, that is. The mission … (obsession?) for the coveted red Christmas berries. It’s a thing. I need them. Every year I try to convince myself I can decorate without them, but it never fails around about mid-November, as I’m driving around, my eyes start to drift to the sides of the road—scanning, scanning, always scanning—for the perfect berry bush.  

I’m not even sure what I like more, the berries or the search. The hunt seems to satisfy this strange inherent need for foraging. And I may be (totally am) competitive by nature. I don’t necessarily know who I’m competing against, but I know there’s lots of others out there like me and once those berries are plump and shiny red, it's like the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 (well, at least in my head it is …). I also get some sort of inappropriate rush from the slight chance law enforcement won’t agree with my decision to pull over to the side of a busy road, place my hazards on and make my way into the woods yielding my clippers.  

If you’re not a berry hunter yourself, it’s important to note that these particular berries are rather difficult to harvest. They tend to grow in soil that is usually damp and—quite maddeningly so—often grow just out of convenient reach. While this reality may deter the more faint of heart, the level of difficulty only spars me on with greater determination. 




I often ask (guilt) my son to come along and, it never fails, we find ourselves in precarious situations trying to cut the perfect branch. This year, both my son and his girlfriend joined the mission, and I may or may not have found myself (totally did) dangling over a particularly dense part of the thicket, screaming to my son's girlfriend to push me further so I could grab the branch that was just out of reach. Once I’ve secured what I feel is an adequate haul, there may or may not (yup) be a decent level of shouting on my part. You know, a little hootin’ and hollerin' to signal the harvest is complete and was a success. It’s an entirely necessary part of the process (but not really).  


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The Wise Men were laser focused on searching for the one and only thing they knew to be true—to be genuine—and to be enough.


The beginning of Advent finds us all searching for something, does it not? Whether it’s berries, the perfect gift, the time to do everything we need to do—we are all scurrying around like a bunch of squirrels (or crazy berry pickers) trying to secure whatever we think we need to make this season bright. The real question is, are we searching for the right things?  

I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided I need to take a few clues from the Wise Men. These guys were laser focused on searching for the one and only thing they knew to be true—to be genuine—and to be enough. Enough in the good times, enough in the dark times, enough for the one who thinks they have it all together and enough for the one who thinks they can never live up to all they were meant for.

No competitive nature necessary to secure this gift. His love is enough to go around. And the cool thing is, once you get it, you’ll realize you have enough to share. So, here’s what I’m thinkin’. If we all find it, we can all share it and then it will be like one big berry harvest celebration—lots of hootin’ and hollerin’ and joy—true joy—for all. So grab your clippers and head into the thicket, people. We’ve got some berries to harvest.



Copyright 2023 Nicole Johnson
Images: (center) copyright 2023 Nicole Johnson, all rights reserved; others Canva