We can say a lot about the lovely Fig Tree. I’m going to just note a few things before we move on. So the fig tree:
-Like sunny, dry places, often seemingly inhospitable places.
-One of the primary foods of the ancient world and one of the first cultivated foods.
-Has unisex fruits that need specialized fig wasps to propagate.
-Often bears “false fruits”.
-Has a sap that is a mild poison.
-Has a root system is pretty aggressive to reach water, they actually need a lot of water, despite locating themselves in dry, sunny places.
-Fig leaves were used in Eden as the first “clothing”, covering.
-“Vine and Fig Trees” symbolizes Peace and Prosperity.
A beautiful practice in Miracles and Blessings is to grow and nurture a plant…perhaps even a fig tree.
I’m going to let you ponder and percolate your own reflections around the above as we continue. There’s a lot to the story of the Fig Tree and we could dig really deeply into what it means, who’s talking, and all sorts of parallels and metaphors and echoes, but let’s just keep it simple. There’s so much to glean from simplicity.
We’re still on the Lenten/Spring Journey. Last week we explored the obstacles of fear and anger and aggression on a challenging journey. This week perhaps, we can explore those times on the journey when we are tried and weak and stumbling. When we feel like complete failures or at the least imperfect and messy beings. We feel lost on the rough road. We find ourselves ready to give up and fall into despair. (PAUSE to reflect).
Perhaps this story, in its simplicity, can help.
I saw my first crocus this past week. It wasn’t growing where it’s supposed to be growing. It popped up in the least hospitable place in my yard for early crocuses. The rest of the crocuses that usually pop up and bloom first…have not yet been sighted.
It was a happy sight, inverse of the Fig Tree, to see a bloom in an unexpected place. A Blessing. A Joy. To reflect on words from others I have been with this week: it’s a shift of perspective. Going from being irritated that the early crocuses and snowdrops haven’t bloomed yet, to being joyful for the one unexpected one that has. To see the dawn, not the sun setting to darkness in the painting (if you joined INC on Friday). To see the beauty and the blessing of the snowfall, even if we would like it to be a sunny, cloudless, blue-sky spring (if you enjoyed Owen’s Lenten offering last week).
To get back to the fig tree. Perhaps we are tired when it’s time to bloom and bear fruit. When it’s time awaken to a season of Spring and Resurrection. These past years feel lean and we’re tired. For some, this Lenten/Spring season can be a mini reflection of that. This is the year to shift the perspective and return and resurrect ourselves. That’s what this year’s Lenten/Spring Journey is about. Moving forward and growing, yes, often even failing forward.
Perhaps that is one of the lessons of Lent/Spring. Spring has its own timeline, as any Maple Sapper or Gardener knows. We’re impatient. We want things to happen on our timeline…and they rarely do. Not much that matters happens on our own timelines. Try putting a timeline on grief. Try putting a timeline on healing. Try putting a timeline on growth. Learning, Wisdom. Love. Trust. Try putting a timeline on letting go.
I think the Fig Tree asks us to simply be patient and kind. That’s it. To be patient and kind with ourselves and with others.
We don’t rip out the crocuses because they are blooming where they don’t belong. We don’t rip out the tomatoes or the cucumbers because they didn’t ripen fast enough. We reassess. We discover what’s needed to grow fully!
Maybe the soil is wrong. Maybe the sunlight is wrong. Maybe it needs water or fertilizer. Maybe it needs patience and kindness.
Maybe we all need patience and kindness. It’s time for us to Spring Assess. Are we tired? Sleep. Are we thirsty? Drink. Are we hungry? Eat. Do we need a break? Take a break (tech and news breaks are really nice—the world won’t fall apart because you aren’t watching for a day or a week). To be clear, the world won’t fall apart. Period. We may not understand the Mystery, but we believe in a loving and forgiving and kind God. There is a bigger picture, we are a part of, but we are not the center of. There is a bigger Mystery and the world will not fall apart. It may be lean and hard and challenging, but it will not fall apart and we are strong enough to do the work we are meant to be doing.
We just might need some water and fertilizer. We just might need rest, patience, and love. We just might need to notice more of the kindness around us and be brightened by the surprise crocuses and smiles, not the ones that are late or too tired to bear fruit or smile just yet.
There is enough love and beauty in the world.
Yes, many of us are afraid, sick, anxious, messy, confused, lost, weary, angry, hungry, thirsty, but perhaps we need to shift the perspective. Instead of basing our love and acceptance on what others have to offer (bearing fruit), basing our love on the unique beauty each one of us already is. Instead of judging “who’s worthy”, we remember that everyone is worthy. Everyone.
Do not quit. Do not give up on yourself. Do not give in to despair or unkindness. Be patient. Each one of us will, and maybe is (we just didn’t notice) blooming and bearing fruit. Do not give in to unkindness.
We may stumble along the way, but usually that’s part of the lesson. For ourselves as the stumbler and for those who stand around to help lift up. To give and receive. Reciprocity.
This Journey is a Journey of Compassion. To Suffer With. To be present with. It’s spring. Take stock. What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? How can we replenish? How can we nurture and nourish our being and soul.
Because eventually, we all have a part to play. We all do have to bloom and bear fruit. We might not be ready in this moment or maybe we are and we’re just afraid. Take stock. And if we are ready: bloom, bear fruit, and be the blessing for those around us to come out of their shells and continue their unique journey to blooming and bearing fruit.
We’re all in this together, so in the meantime, be patient. Be Kind. Have Hope. Have Faith. Have Compassion. Be patient and nurture one another.