SNOW-WHITE CHERRY BLOSSOMS
READ: Galatians 5:22-26
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control… Since we [as Christian disciples] are living by the Spirit, let our behavior be [actually] guided by the Spirit and let us not be conceited or provocative and envious of one another.” – Galatians 5:22, 25-26
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:4
I came upon a winding path one day that made its way through a cherry orchard. I was fortunate and blessed for that one day was one in which the cherry trees were in full bloom, to the point where the trees were beginning to spill over, casting their blossoms upon the path. So beautiful! So delicately beautiful, as if God were defining “elegance” in terms of wispy-white flowers. So I found a bench where I might immerse myself in this cherry blossom moment.
As I sat there in a mood of silent praise, a little girl came down the path, not far ahead of her slowly strolling mother. The little girl, she looked of Asian ancestry, jet black hair and features as fine as ancient lace. In her hand, she held a simple basket, a basket in which one might keep treasured letters and picture postcards from far off places. As she neared, I saw that this little girl was busy harvesting the snow-white cherry blossoms that had fallen to the ground. Carefully picking up this blossom and that blossom, but for reasons known only to her, not that one or that one either, placing each one carefully in place within the basket. Soon her basket was filled to overflowing with a froth of white loveliness gathered from the earth. She showed me her overflowing basket and she did so with so much delight. And she said to me, “Would you like a blossom from my cherry trees?” And I carefully, very carefully selected one that I especially loved causing her to smile and me to smile and also , I did sense … causing God to smile as well.
Jesus and the apostles often urged us to be “fruitful”, to be trees or fields that bear much fruit. The evangelist in me has heard that word “fruitfulness” in terms of souls being added to the flock. The social theologian in me has heard that word “fruitfulness” in terms of advances in the kingdom’s progress in changing this world into more heavenly ways. The farm boy in me has tended to picture the “fruitfulness” as bumper crops of wheat and bushels of figs harvested from fruit-filled trees. But this little girl …. with her basket … taught me that a “fruitful” cherry tree produces not only a harvest of cherries … but also a harvest of snow-white cherry blossoms, freely given by God and by little girls … to old souls in need of a measure of gentle, gentle joy.
Gentleness … one of the fruit of the Spirit … seems strangely lost in so much of the tone, timbre and tenor of our present day Christian conversation. Instead of gentleness … we seem obsessed, somehow diminished and most certainly tarnished, with violent words in angry tones wielded in the name of gentle causes.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control… Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behavior be guided by the Spirit and let us not be conceited or provocative and envious of one another.” – Galatians 5:22, 25-26
And people ask me ... “Just what DOES a Christian disciple look like?” Well, for one thing … they are gentle souls.
Brother Anthony of the Cross