Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I planted this tree, fertilized it and watered it regularly. I can see it from my kitchen window so I often looked at it and looked forward to never buying lemons again.
Alas, it refused to produce fruit. In the past 6 years of having this tree, it has only produced around 5 lemons. And these lemons were dry and not very juicy! I read up on the care and feeding of lemon trees. I bought more fertilizer. I even talked to the thing. Still no fruit.
I began to resent this tree. Why are you taking up my time and energy? I wanted you to be productive, to save me some money over time. I even thought I would be able to share of your abundance with my friends and neighbors but no! This year, it looked like it was going to be another no-fuit year. I thought about how Jesus cursed the fig tree for not having fruit. I thought about doing the same. Or at least getting rid of it and trying again with another type of citrus.
One day, I looked out my window and this is what I saw. The tree offered me this one ripe lemon like a mocking gift or, perhaps, as a peace offering.
I've been thinking about this lemon and what it might represent. Like most things of mystery in my life, it made me think of my son. He is the other thing that I spend so much energy nurturing, hoping for good fruit. And in some ways, he is a "fruitful vine". He produces laughs and smiles and happy moments aplenty. He adds to our family in and our community in ways that are difficult to quantify. However, in some ways, he leaves me waiting for the fruit that I hope for and expect. The normal ways that we expect a child to be productive, in terms of educations, learned skills and capabilities are slow in coming for Josh. It has taken Josh 6 years of public education to be able to spell his first name. Like my lemon tree, it takes Josh much, much more time to do what he's supposed to do.
Ultimately, I don't have to accept that from my backyard lemon tree. At some point, it may be time to decide that this tree needs to produce or else. However, although it hasn't given me many lemons, it has given me a picture of growth that is slow and surprising. It has been a parable to me, instructing me in the mysterious and uncontrollable ways of growth. You can't make growth happen. You can just be a part of it and see what you are given.