To God’s beloved people at John Wesley:
This season of Lent, we’ve been considering the theme of Cultivating & Letting Go, and praying together about what God might be cultivating in us and what we might be called to let go of. In my preparation for this theme, I came across a reflection by Lisle Gwynn Garrity. Her words both inspired and challenged me, and so I share them with you. In this holy season of Lent, as we await the joy of new life on Easter morning, may you feel the tender care of God’s nourishing and pruning. May you bear great fruit, even in the darkness and dead of winter. May you live fully and faithfully, trusting what God is bringing to life within you and through you.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells a story of a fruitless fig tree once planted with promise, only to grow barren and brittle. The landowner in the parable has returned to its empty branches for three years. With patience worn thin and hope withered, he commands the gardener to cut it down, seeing it as a liability to the soil.
But where the landowner sees waste, the gardener perceives possibility that lies fallow. The gardener has learned from the land that life flows in cycles – budding, flourishing, pruning, death. And so he requests one more year. Cutting the earth with a shovel, he loosens the clots that have settled like stone so that when water comes, the earth will receive it like a soft kiss. He blankets the roots with manure so that growth can be steadied by hope. And then he lets go.
What happens to the fig tree? Does it live? Does it die? Does it bear any fruit?
We don’t know. And so, if we can’t read the end of this story, then we must write it with our own lives. Because we know what it feels like to be the fig tree, to be deemed worthless, to be weary enough to believe that we don’t deserve to be well. And perhaps we also know what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of the landowner – calculating worth based on what we produce, what we accomplish, what we provide.
Can we cultivate the vision of the Great Gardener, the One who sees you for what you are becoming? The one who tends and prunes, nourishes and lets go?
Perhaps for us, the fruit is not the ending. The fruit is in the waiting, in the dead of winter, in the manure, the nurture, the rest, the darkness. The fruit is in all of it, sowing seeds we can’t yet see.