One of my favorite seasonal foods is watermelon. I have lots of boyhood memories of Summer fun eating watermelon. For a while, we had been purchasing the seedless variety. It’s nice to cut one open and dig right in without worrying about picking around or spitting out the seeds. There was only one problem. It didn’t taste as good. My wife, not being a big watermelon fan, didn’t notice much.
At first, I thought we were just bad at choosing good watermelons. After a while, I began to get suspicious. Yesterday I was at the grocery store and saw big boxes filled with watermelons. I halfheartedly walked over to them thinking to myself about our track record of mediocre watermelons when I noticed a “seedless” sticker was only on some of them. Then I saw the word “seeded” marked with a big, black Sharpie marker on the side of the box. It suddenly became my mission to find a watermelon with seeds in the hope of reuniting my taste buds with a long, lost flavor. I claimed a small, elongated one and headed home.
The next day after dinner I decided to cut my prize open to see how it tasted. As I separated it in two I saw all those little black seeds in the way. Undaunted, I maneuvered my spoon around the seeds and pulled out a red, juicy chunk and put it in my mouth. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven! My wife gave me one of her, “You’re goofy” looks as I made my yummy noises and joyfully announced, “This is what watermelon is supposed to taste like!” As the sweet flavor and aroma triggered precious boyhood memories of childhood freedom and innocence, I decided then and there that dealing with the seeds was definitely worth the effort. Spitting them out was half the fun of eating watermelon anyway, I recalled.
Today, while digging into the second half of my watermelon, a spiritual and life application occurred to me. Making things easier does not necessarily make them better. Every gain has a loss, and sometimes the loss is too much. This is how we got the expression, “Throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Maybe I’ll start saying, “Throw the flavor out with the seeds.”
I know people that left Catholicism in favor of a “simpler Gospel.” They just wanted Jesus. They didn’t want to deal with all the “stuff” that comes with being Catholic. I know, because I used to be one of those people. It took me a long time to realize what I had given up. What I thought were just inconvenient “seeds” were actually important spiritual pieces of Christ’s authentic Church. If those seeds are missing, the Church becomes something less than what it was intended to be. These are not seeds to spit out, however. These are seeds that provide growth when properly planted and nurtured.
I’m glad I rediscovered seeded watermelon, and I’m glad I rediscovered the Catholic Faith. I’m no longer annoyed at the seeds. They are a sign of authenticity and satisfying flavor. Now I look for them and enjoy them.