When it happened the first time my curiosity was piqued. When it happened the second time I missed it and burned the marmalade.
A number of weeks ago son number three gave me seven exquisitely juicy and richly fragrant home grown oranges. These glistening, orange orbs of accumulated sunlight were begging to be made into jars of marmalade flavoured liquid sunshine.
Not having made marmalade or jam for donkeys years, I scoured the web looking for a recipe that included seven oranges or a combination of other citrus fruit that matched the mass of that which I had on hand so I could work out how much sugar I would need to create marmalade that set properly but would be reasonably viscous.
As Murphy’s law would have it, seven was not the magic number. Two, three or four were the optimal combination and no recipe included a ratio calculation of pulp to sugar. Suddenly I remembered how I had successfully created marmalade in days of yore. The ratio key is one cup of pulp and liquid to one cup of sugar.
Charged with renewed vigour, I set about sterilising the jars, placing a test plate in the freezer, putting the pulp on the boil to soften and warming the sugar in readiness for the big moment when it would be added to the roiling pulp. However whilst attending to the preparatory details I was blissfully unaware of the kingdom lesson that awaited me.
One important procedure when making jam or marmalade is testing for the set point. Traditionally one puts a plate in the freezer to chill and then once the preserve, in this case marmalade, begins to thicken, one removes a teaspoon of liquid from the pot and drops it onto the chilled plate resulting in a skin forming on the top of the cooled liquid. When the skin wrinkles and the marmalade has a jelly like touch that is an indication that the marmalade has reached set point and should be removed from the heat then poured into hot, sterile jars very soon after. This particular batch of marmalade however, was taking its jolly sweet time coming to set point.
As time went on, I had three test plates in the freezer on standby for testing but still the wretched stuff was not setting. Finally at the point of exasperation, I decided to sit for a moment or two to take a deep breath and wait. Then it happened. In the silence a distinct shift occurred in the sound that the molten mass of fruit and sugar produced. Instinctively I knew that set point had been reached and as I made my way back into the kitchen my spirit grasped the reality that it is in the silence that the most subtle of shifts in the Spirit are heard with the greatest clarity.
We all “know” stuff in our heads but it isn’t until it becomes revelation in our spirit by the Holy Spirit that we really KNOW it. Yes, I knew the still small voice scripture among many others but since the simple shift in the silence arrested my attention I have been remembering the innumerable occasions when I have sensed that shift and moved with it regardless of understanding the mechanics or the ramifications of such a shift.
Needless to say a number of weeks later I received another batch of bountifuls from a friend’s orange tree. So it was I found myself making marmalade again. I followed exactly the same procedure as before but with one slight variation. An unexpected visitor had arrived before set point had been reached and in the midst of the chat and tea making, I missed hearing the subtle shift in bubbling of the marmalade and heard a different silence instead. It is an oxymoron to think that silence has different sounds but this silence is the kind that usually accompanies children being naughty or the eerie nothing that happens before an earth tremor or a storm. This silence was the signal that I had missed the subtle shift and now the marmalade was ruined.
I recall a prophecy given in the latter part of last century where the Prophet of God said that “ walking in the Spirit would become as natural to the believer as a bird flying through the air or fish swimming in the sea”. The message of course is this, that in the latter days what was once thought to be supernatural, will in fact become the norm for believers. A sign for the believer that they are reproducing the kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven and a wonder for the perishing that the Kingdom of God has come near.