In a lectio divina group Estee and I are a part of, the eight participants reflected on a section of John 15. In this "divine reading" an insight came into focus about Jesus talking about bearing fruit. Beginning with the thought that Jesus does not say we are to bear vegetables but fruit. Which on the surface seems silly, then the conversation opened up the metaphor.
I am not a farmer and know very little about growing produce. What I know is that to grow, say corn, one would plow the soil, sow seeds,feed and water the seeds and when the harvest comes, you cut the corn down and then you begin the process over again the next year.
What is great about growing vegetables is that there is an almost immediate return on the work. You plant a seed then later that year you get corn or carrots or beans or squash. This is why kids are always introduced to gardening with growing vegetables - you do not have to wait too long for veggies.
This is not the case with most fruits. Peaches, apples, olives, cherries all take a number of years before food is produced. At the end of the process, being a farmer of fruit looks like being a farmer of vegetables. However, in the beginning fruit farmers do not get to 'eat' from their labors in a few weeks. They must wait years. However, fruit farmers also do not have to take time each year to till and plant - the vegetable farmer has to.
It is a simple thought but one that has larger ramifications for spiritual formation - are we like vegetable or fruit farmers?
Vegetable farmer spirituality might look like we are doing the same work work year after year. Vegetable farmer spirituality might look like we are always busy getting ready for the next season that we cannot abide in the presence of God. Vegetable farmer spirituality might look like we are being fed, but not patient enough to discover the sweetness of fruit. Vegetable farmer spirituality has some risk but only short term - because there is always a new season to try again. Vegetable farming spirituality looks like one who does not feel a need to trust very deeply, because in just a few weeks you just start again.
Fruit farmer spirituality might look like we are engaged in the hard work at the start then we must trust that fruit will come - never knowing if all the years of waiting will lead to any fruit. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like we are barren for a long time. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like we are not doing much as we wait but we are busy developing trust. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like silly because you may not eat for a while. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like one who, after a long time, cannot help but be deeply rooted and continue to grow fruit even if the farmer dies.
On a side note, fear seems to be a component of developing vegetable farmer spirituality. Friends, I can tell you there at this moment in the church and world, there is an abundance of vegetable farming going on.
Originally posted on May 14, 2012