Our monthly meeting of our Catholic Gay Straight Alliance group met last night and as is our custom we began our meeting with prayer time reflecting on the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday.
This weekend the Gospel is one of what I refer to as the fig tree stories. There are a few of them in the gospel accounts and sometimes I get them confused. But first I must remind you that I'm Italian and we as a people love our fig trees! We wrap them in burlap and protect them from the winter snows. We care for them tenderly and rejoice with the harvest of plump juicy figs. Everyone that is except my grandparents. They have, or more correctly, they have left to us, the third generation now caring for these trees, three of the biggest fig trees I have ever seen in my life. I have a photo of me when I was little standing by a little fig bush. A number of years ago I took a photo of me as an adult by that same little tree that now towers way over my head. Because my grandparents did absolutely nothing that I know of to make these monsters grow, I chuckle a bit when I hear of all the fuss others go through to care for their fig trees. Whenever I hear the mention of a fig tree in the gospel, I smile and remember my family trees.
Edward Hayes wrote a another version of a fig tree parable told from the fig tree's perspective. The fig tree wanted to be something extraordinary, not just a plain humble fig tree. The fig tree was very clear about not liking the smell of the natural fertilizer and was resistant to the idea of pruning.
I am very much like that fig tree.
I do not like the idea of all the pruning...the cutting off of healthy branches, that needs to happen in my life in order for new life to burst forth. I am comfortable with my old self. I don't know what that new stuff will be and that makes me nervous. Do I trust God enough to believe that the pruning will bring forth goodness and new life in me?
And what's the deal with the natural fertilizer...(you know what I'm talking about right? Cow poop?)
The smell is terrible. How could that ever be a good thing? I'm supposed to believe that all the 'poop' that can overwhelm my life, that when it it spread around my roots generously, it helps me to grow? In what world does that make sense?
But I know in my heart it's true...because I've seen how fig trees and plants grow. Pruning and fertilizing absolutely bring forth amazing, beautiful, strong new life. If that's what I want in my spiritual journey then I have to be willing to trust the Divine Gardener in how he chooses to nurture and care for me.
And I know in my heart I really do trust Him, I just need a reminder, like this fig tree story.
Happy Third Week of Lent!