Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bearing Fruit

"Fig Tree"
-in my desert garden-

Two years ago we planted a fig tree in our garden, but after a few months I was sure it wasn't going to survive. An unexpected cold spell seemed to "do it in" - all its leaves had disappeared and it looked pretty dead to me. But our gardener said he thought it still had life in it and he was right. Eventually the tree sprouted leaves again, and this spring there were finally blossoms. Now in the summer heat - a rich abundance of deep-purple, sweet-tasting figs. 

Yesterday I went out into the garden and told my fig tree how much I appreciated the beautiful fruit it was bearing, and I encouraged it to keep up the good work. As I was talking to my tree, I was struck with the notion that this fig tree was teaching me a lesson about my own spiritual journey: As I walk along my life path, I also should be bearing fruit for others to enjoy. 

I think about a person from a few years back who would come to church every single Sunday, occasionally attending two services, actively involved in church committees, always in various bible study groups - obviously a "very religious person," and yet a very sad and lonely individual.  I rarely ever saw the person smile, always pretty cranky, usually quite judgmental and gossipy. 

In the Christian Scriptures,  Saint Paul talks about the "fruit of the spirit." On the spiritual path, one's life should bear these fruits.  They are signs and symptoms of a healthy spiritual life: 

The fruit of the spirit:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, generosity 

As I think about it, these "fruit of the spirit" are not just something for a Christian to consider. It seems to me that these fruit should be manifested in the lives of any person on any type of spiritual path.

I write a daily blog article about "spirituality," - a hot topic nowadays. . "Religion" is not so popular but everywhere you look in the social media you can always find someone talking about "spirituality."  However, from my observations, people often imagine that their "spirituality" as some sort of internal state, something within a person.  You pray or mindfully meditate, in a church, or in a temple, or sitting on a yoga mat in order to find a deeper inner peace.

But, as I see it, if you meditate for hours, pray every day, or go to church every Sunday and yet you have little use for other people, are mean and cranky, have no joy in life, are impatient and intolerant, self-centered and stingy in your everyday life, the path you are on is probably heading in the wrong direction. 

The spiritual journey is not just a path within. A person on a spiritual journey bears good fruit. The "fruit of the spirit" are signs of a healthy spiritual life.

As I sit in my garden this morning for a time of quiet daily meditation, I consider the life I live when I leave this garden and go out into my ordinary routine. Like the fig tree that taught me a lesson yesterday, I hope the fruit I bear is rich and ripe and sweet.

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