Saturday, June 28, 2014

Natural Inculturation: The Heartberry

This morning, while reading "Dickon Among the Lenape", a children's story by M.R. Harrington, I learned that the Lenape Indians call the strawberry the "heart berry". Harrington's book is well known for its attention to detail and accuracy about Lenape culture, and this is no exception. One of my Lenape dictionaries has wde for heart and wtehim for strawberry: -im being the Lenape suffix designating a fruit or berry.

Heartberry. What a perfect name, no?

We get our English name from the straw that was traditionally used to keep the berries off the ground while they were ripening. Which makes sense, but is not terribly descriptive of the fruit itself.

But using the Lenape name as a springboard allows to add something of a new element to our ecclesiastical observances throughout the year.

The heartberry ripens in June.

Which also happens to be the month of the Sacred Heart.

I'm not sure if my Old World ancestors who picked Fragaria vesca among the Appennines ever made any connection between these two June events--they didn't have the etymological connection, and the Sacred Heart isn't terribly old of a feast after all.

But for us here in New World it is simply too excellent of a relationship to pass up. What better way to tie our devotional calendar to the natural cycles of the seasons?

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis!

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