Sandra and I have just got an allotment. I recommend it. Growing your own fruit and veg. has got to be good for the mind as well as the body. Having said that, one of the hazards is the fellow allotment holders. Not that they are unfriendly – quite the reverse – but the pressure can get to you. Making sure the ridges are right for your potatoes when Michael, our retired neighbour from Mayo, surely a son of the soil, can easily see them over the fence, is something that could keep you awake at night if you are not careful. We thought about fruit trees but Mark behind us arrived in today with carefully chosen young apple saplings – obviously an old hand. What if we got the wrong sort or put them in the wrong place? The quiet humiliation of a friendly word of correction could be emotionally wounding and wipe out weeks of therapeutic gardening activity at a stroke.
Not that we are strangers to fruit growing. In Cameroon we struggled and produced one pineapple after three years. Our big success, though, was the Jackfruit tree. We planted with trepidation and much watering. But it survived the first dry season and then just grew and grew. Now, after fifteen years, the tree is so big you can see it from space. If you don’t believe me, I can show you on Google earth. We were the ones who introduced the fruit to the village and when we brought a Jackfruit to church as a first-fruits offering, it went really high at auction afterwards. Mr. Martin, our neighbour, bought it. I asked if he would enjoy eating it – but then I discovered the reason he had bought it was for the seeds. He’d seen and tasted ours and wanted his own. Now the trees are popping up all over the village.
As I was looking at the tree on Google Earth the other day, I was reminded of some fruit in the grounds of the monastery where we’ve been staying on our recent trips to Cameroon, now that we cannot go to the village. The fruit I was looking for isn’t something you can eat, but some topiary (that is an ornamental hedge that is trimmed to a particular shape). The gardeners have managed to clip a hedge to form three words in French and the same three words in English – LOVE JOY PEACE.
Sadly I was unable to make them out on Google Earth. They just fade into the background fuzziness of the garden and no one would be the wiser just looking in on it.
Last Sunday we were reminded beautifully in song by Daniel, Hannah and Samuel that the fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut or a banana – or even a Jackfruit – but rather:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5 vv 22-25)
Are others able to see that fruit in your life, or are you just indistinguishable from everyone else, like the monastery hedge? No evidence of love, joy and peace there, for sure. But when the fruit of the Spirit grows big in your life, like the Jackfruit tree, people will start to talk and they will want what you have – and that will bring glory to Christ.
So forget about Michael and Mark in the plot next door, just focus on dealing with your own flesh and walk by the Spirit. Then it won’t be long before they are asking for your fruit in their lives!
May God bless you this week and don’t forget if you are in need of help just contact us.
Jon (for the Elders)