In the middle of August, on a Saturday that seems more like September, Randa and I are making apple cider from the windfall apples that we picked up in the three-tree orchard last evening. These are not the apples that would sell at a stand; they are bruised and blemished but not spoiled. It is not for their beauty that we have gathered them but for the bounty of what is held within.
I turn the heavy crank, spinning the cutterhead while she drops in the apples a few at a time. Their ripe chunks fly out below, caught in the slatted oak cylinder beneath. As it nears full, I pause for bit and wait for the cutter to quit spinning. Then, I reach underneath and press the pulp down a bit so we can grind a few more apples.
With the basket full, I slide it over underneath the press. As Randa turns the press handles, I guide the flat press piece into the basket. She continues turning, forcing the flat down against the pulp. By the time it is halfway down, a full flow of fresh juice pours out through the opening of the collector. It spills through the strainer into the pan. I finish out the press, cranking down the last couple of inches to squeeze out the last bit of juice.
A few days of aging, two more steps of straining and we will have some fine, sweet cider. Chilled in the basement refrigerator, it will yield its full flavor and character. From all of those apples, none of them perfect, all of them blemished, comes a sweet and pleasing refreshment.
When we submit our will to His and humble ourselves in the service to which we are called, we produce fruits far finer than the branches. It has never been about our own perfection but rather, our complete yielding to His.