Guava Moments by Olwyn Garratt

Guava Moments by Olwyn Garratt

One day I took a small step out of my daily routine, and for the next 30 years I remembered that moment as a kind of victory, and an album into which I could paste memories of other triumphant moments, an album which I came to call ‘guava moments’.
 
My first guava moment came when I was in the garden at our rented home in Margate, on the KZN south coast. Su (nine months old) was in the pushchair and I was hanging washing when a tantalising fragrance drifted across. I left Su and scrambled up a sandy slope to the vacant plot adjacent to our house. There I saw a couple of trees heavy with guavas, and the area under each tree was thick with fallen fruit. Already the bees were active but there was more than enough for me as well. I went back for plastic bags and within a few minutes I harvested a store of fruit. Energised by the unexpected windfall, I phoned my mother to ask how I should stew those that would not last. I don’t remember eating the fruit, but I never forgot the sense of triumph that resulted from my little expedition. It was a moment in which the shell of my loneliness was penetrated by the sweetness of a harvest that I had neither planted nor tendered.
 
In the following years I recovered my equilibrium and as our family expanded and the children grew I experienced good times and I met good people. When divorce shattered my family unit I was plunged into a time of desolation, but this was also to be the fertile ground into which God could plant seeds and send harvests, and guava moments came one after the other.
 
On a recent trip to Cape Town I looked at the flat where I had lived with my adult children in the divorce recovery years. I looked at the photographic record of all our successes and I thought of ‘guavas’. I also saw the shabby things that I never attended to when resources were few and were allocated exclusively to nurturing us as a recovering family. I wanted to hug these messy areas into wholeness, seeing in them not the things that shamed me so much as symbols of my own vulnerability during the years of recovery. In seeing the bricks and mortar of my former home after having been away for a time, I saw the entire flat as a collection of guava moments, and I saw that in each triumphant moment there was an experience of God’s loving providence that was as sweet and unexpected as the first fruits had been.