Our countertop is littered with fruit when Plum is here. Fresh strawberries are his favorite so along with the bowl of apples, they are a constant. Most often juicy oranges and just getting ripe bananas are added as Chef stops at the store on his way home when he knows Plum is waiting, selecting also purple grapes and a couple of kiwi. We have way too much fruit when Plum is here, his stays are shorter but our fruit purchasing hasn’t caught up to that. Chef doesn’t eat it, I stopped years ago when money was tight and I was saving all the fruit for the kids. I noticed recently that I only eat it on vacation or when we are dining out, when it is presented as an option someone else is offering. Even though I have lush fruit on my counter, I don’t indulge. I look at it longingly but something within me stops my hand from reaching for grapes, doesn’t allow a clementine to grace my plate, I rarely taste an apple unless finishing one Plum has left behind. In truth I love fruit as much as he does. This sacrifice is no longer necessary and may really be cutting me off from essential goodness. Last night on my way home I bought fruit for me. I felt wicked, naughty, self-indulgent. It tasted so delightful.
As moms we sacrifice much for our children, we begin the act of parenting by giving way to our very own personhood, allowing chemistry and biology to alter us. We feel ill, we are stretched from the inside out, we wobble, we become the carrier of another. It is almost a given that we get lost in the process, that everything we do becomes centered on the life we are growing. Once the baby is shed from us, the long process of losing them to the world begins, our womb and personhood take many months and maybe years to recover. Still we are charged with nurturing the new life, fully dependent on us to become a real person, so we focus on them. Our bodies, our persons never fully regain equal standing. We are a role much more than a woman. Thus, the fruit goes to the kids when money is tight and I have to learn again to eat it. I have to grasp after all these years that something so basic as the gifts of the harvests are meant for me as well.
I watch Plum eat his strawberries, his eyes shine. Juice from the clementines streaks down his arms. He is joyous. We soak up his joy like the napkin collecting the sticky sweetness on his chin, aware he is getting this goodness. Last night I bought both of those, for me, knowing Plum wouldn’t be back for a couple of days. Surely there will be plenty left when he returns, but I tasted the gorgeous strawberries, felt the sunshine of the seasonal light my soul. I added a sweet ripe banana, the soft slices the perfect accompaniment to my dinner. I knew the exuberance of eating well, the richness of the earth. Aren’t these the very symbols Paul uses to describe what the Holy Spirit offers us? I have to wonder how cutting myself off from the real fruits has allowed me to wall my soul from the gifts the Spirit brings? Certainly those gifts are the byproduct of trusting so deeply in God’s plan, allowing Him to be the gardener in my life. What if bad jobs are weeds being pulled, what if unhealthy relationships are plucked away like bad seeds? What if long seasons of quiet are preparing my soul soil for a great planting, a rich harvest to come? Knowing God is in charge of the gardening, that my Fruits come from not too much self-sacrifice any more than over-indulgence, I am beginning to wonder where I might notice more goodness, more gentleness, more peace, more faithfulness. I am a joy and love noticer, but not so much with forbearance and maybe I have some self-control work to do. Like strolling through the fruit section of the store and only finding apples, I have been availing myself of too little fruit.
With each bite of the clementine I will have for breakfast, I am asking God to show my His fruits and where I might find more peace. I am going to add an apple in to my lunch, another quest for goodness. Dare I have more strawberries as an afternoon snack? I may have swung too far the other way but my oh my, years of sacrifice have lead me to this: once I taste the fruits of the Spirit, I really want more.
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22-23 Message
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV