by Christine Sine
For the last few days, my usual contemplative practice has been derailed by the cherry tree blooming gloriously outside my office/sacred space window. It is absolutely breathtaking, even more so because of the way it is framed by my indoor orchid. I make no excuses for this derailment, as there is nothing more refreshing to my spirit than nature and as we celebrate Earth Week this week, culminating in Earth Day on Thursday, I am making every excuse that I can to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, but the cherry tree definitely wins the prize. Now we wait in hopeful anticipation for the harvest.
I say hopeful because there is no guarantee. A good harvest does not just depend on lots of blooms. It depends on good soil, the right climate, plenty of blossoms and pollinators… and, it seems, good neighbours. Cherry trees cross pollinate with other varieties and we thought we had that covered as our tree has three varieties grafted onto it. What we did not realize is that our next door neighbour’s ornamental cherry was interfering with our harvest. It had been especially bred to create spectacular blooms but no fruit, and it convinced the cherry tree to do the same. When the tree was cut down, suddenly our tree produced cherries in abundance.
Other fruit is influenced by pollinators in different ways. Sweet peppers, for example, can be unexpectedly hot if we have planted them too close to hot peppers. And don’t try keeping squash seed for next year’s planting unless you have been able to keep different varieties well separated. You have no idea what you will produce.
So many faith lessons to absorb here, too. How many Christians have you known that have bloomed beautifully but never produced fruit? The soil around them seems to be good, and they have been well watered and fertilzed but nothing happens beyond the spectacular blooms. My cherry tree makes me wonder, How much notice do we pay the neighbours around us? In what ways do they influence our harvest?
First, do we have good pollinators around us? Diversity is the name of the game. The fruit we are meant to produce will not come to maturity unless it is pollinated by others. Sit snd think about that for a while. None of us produce fruit without the input of friends and leaders. And it is much more likely that we will produce good fruit if our “pollinators” are not like us, but are from another fertile and productive tree. God’s people thrive when they live in the midst of a diverse and productive community.
Second, is there someone else nearby who is a bad influence and needs to be “cut out”? On the surface, they may look like a productive plant. They produce lots of blooms but the fruit never matures and they have the same effect on us. “Cutting them out” and not allowing them to pollinate us with their ideas can be hard, because they really do look beautiful and we are dazzled by the display. Probably one of the hardest questions we ever need to ask ourselves is: “what kind of fruit do my leaders and those who influence me produce?”. We live in a time where it seems that many are pollinating with hate rather than with love and we need to assess the influences that shape the fruit we produce.
Third, what does our fruit look like? As I thought about this today, I was reminded of Galatians 5:22-23 and I recommend you spend time meditating on it this week:
But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. (TPT)
I love how The Passion Translation expresses this: “the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions”. When we have been well pollinated by others, when we dwell in the midst of enriching diverse communities, we are much more likely to produce a rich and tasty harvest, a harvest of divine love that looks like overflowing joy, peace that subdues violence, patience that endures, kindness in all our actions, a strong spirit and much more.
So, if spring is bursting out around you, and there are cherry trees in full bloom, go out and enjoy them, but spend time thinking about the fruit they will produce too.
One perfect way to celebrate Earth Day is by signing up for the Spirituality of Gardening Online Course!