ripening in order to bear fruit

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person
to save a multitude of others,
redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(a slight blush begins on the persimmions / Troup, Co Georgia / Julie Cook / 2108)

Therese of Lisieux, known as ‘the Little Flower’, was only 24 years old when she died
from tuberculosis.
Despite her sweet and tender disposition, her Chrisitan spiritual impact was to be
tremendous as she today is known far and wide both inside and out of Catholic circles.
Next to Saint Francis of Assisi, Therese is the second most popular Catholic saint.

Therese lost her mother to what is thought to have been breast cancer when Therese was
only 4 and a half years old.
An older sister stepped into the role of surrogate mother to the young Theresa.

It wasn’t long after that time that Theresa’s two older sisters each left home as they
sought to join the cloistered community of the Carmelite order.

Carmelites are a religious order founded in the 12th century near Mt Carmel,
hence the name.
It is a religious cloistered order known for a contemplative lifestyle—
that being a life of prayer.
Community, service, and prayer are their central focus.

At first, Theresa was devastated as she had first lost her mother and now was
losing her two sisters who had taken her mother’s place in her life and heart.
Theresa was known for being a bright child who excelled in school yet was very
sensitive and was often the victim of vicious bullying.

Soon she developed what doctors labeled as “neurotic attacks”—
uncontrollable tremors, a result
as her body’s way of dealing with frustration.

Her oldest sister would then write letters of encouragement to Theresa speaking to her
of faith, Jesus, and mother Mary.

“Christmas Eve of 1886 was a turning point in the life of Thérèse; she called it
her “complete conversion.”
Years later she stated that on that night she overcame the pressures she had faced since
the death of her mother and said that “God worked a little miracle to make me grow up
in an instant…
On that blessed night … Jesus, who saw fit to make Himself a child out of love for me,
saw fit to have me come forth from the swaddling clothes and imperfections of childhood”.

(Wikipedia)

And so at the age of 15, Theresa left home to also join the Carmelite order.

She leaned heavily on the writings of two Spanish Carmelite mystics,
St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.

Theresa was fervent in her desire to draw ever closer to God.
“In her quest for sanctity, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish
heroic acts, or great deeds, in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God.
She wrote, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love?
Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers
and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the
least actions for love.”

Wikipedia

And so Theresa had learned one of life’s most difficult yet important lessons…
that in order to accomplish big and great things,
these things must be accomplished in small and almost insignificant ways in order to have
the most lasting and powerful effects.

It was this humble yet steadfast approach of hers in developing a deeply intimate
relationship with God, Jesus and even Mary and in turn offering that intimate relationship
to others, that seems to have drawn so many admirers, both Catholic and not,
to this simple young nun.

In her short 24 years, she made such a tremendous impact on those who had known her…
so much so that it was just 28 years following her death that she was declared a Saint
as well as Doctor of the Chruch.

Another small yet giant of a woman, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, would eventually borrow
the name of Theresa, taking it as her own when she professed her own vows as a nun…
that woman was Mother Teresa.

And so it is with our ripening little persimmon which helps to remind us of the wisdom
of the little flower, St. Theresa.
We are all waiting, in some fashion or other, during our own individual time of ripening and
growth—waiting for the right time when we can finally bear the strong and powerful fruits of
a heart rooted in the belief and wisdom of Jesus Christ—

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,
fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing
in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:10

letting go

That old September feeling… of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air…. Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes and failures had been wiped clean by summer.
Wallace Stegner

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
Mahatma Gandhi

“Detachment, properly understood, means freedom, inner freedom. And, although it is not a word Jesus used, detachment expresses very well an important element in his spirituality: the ability to let go. In the Christian tradition this has been spoken of as “purity of heart” or as the process of becoming “poor in spirit.”
― Albert Nolan

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(a persimmon ripens in a September sun / Julie cook / 2015)

Wandering recently on an off beaten path, I was sweetly reminded that my very soul was gently slipping into a quieting and calming pool of serenity.
I basked in the overwhelming stillness.
Lovingly engulfed, I was warmly embraced as I found myself caught up in the slowing down of one season as it began the transitioning and metamorphosing into something new, different and welcoming.
I exhaled.
And happily felt myself letting go. . .

DSC02674
(persimmons ripen in a September sun / Julie cook / 2015)

DSC02672
(persimmons ripen in a September sun / Julie cook / 2015)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Melancholia

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.”
― Hermann Hesse

DSC01732
(a visitor to the blackberries / Julie Cook / 2015)

Waiting for the burdens to lift,
growing familiarly uncomfortable,
we ripen like freshly picked fruit.

Tender to the touch yet apt to bruising far too easily,
Colors now slowly blend, as the sun continues to work her charms.
Time will not be kind.

Buried by inconsistencies while hiding in the dappled light,
We long for the miraculous of the Divine
Only to be transfigured and made all the more beautiful.

And so we hope and wait.

Ripe yet?

Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own.
Soren Kierkegaard

“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming.
Frederick Buechner

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(unripened blueberries / Julie Cook / 2015)

By the looks of these blueberries, they still have a ways to go before they’re ripe enough for picking. More time is needed for basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays before they’ll be a deep purplish blue bursting with juicy sweetness. And I must admit, the thought of soon to be syrupy fresh blueberries is a comforting thought.

Life with Dad these days has precipitated any sort of garden this summer, which makes me sad—
yet at the same time life is as it should be—with me being able to travel back and forth, helping to care for him during this particular stage of his life’s journey. . .It makes for long hectic days, with some days being good and some days being not so good. We made a minor crisis run to the doctor’s today, and are waiting on more test results- – but for now, just this minute, it’s “steady as she goes”. . .

So being able to come home with a chance to wander a bit in the yard, checking out the progress of the blueberries, watching the birds dart in and out of their bird boxes, and just relishing in the muffled sounds of a late rural afternoon is a welcomed respite from the worries of a stress filled day.

And as I check on the ripeness of my pale green berries, my thoughts wander to my own sense of ripeness.

Most folks might think that at 55 I’m probably pretty good and ripe, with hints of pruneiness here and there. I’ve had life experiences both good and bad that have worked to shape and mould me into the person I am today.
Painful as well as pleasant, sweet coupled with sorrowful.
Yet one look at my 87 year old dad, pale and feeble, I think to myself “now here is someone who must be ripe–” And yet there are days I think he’s often just rotting on the vine as it were, wasting away with little effort to stop the decay.

I know my dad, I know he’s not where he needs to be, yet–and I doubt, knowing Dad, that he’ll get there in time. Which might mean that none of us are ever fully ripe as perhaps our lives are just one long ripening process. God works throughout our lives deep within our hearts and souls. He lovingly takes us, shifting and shaping, pushing and pulling. He allows the sun of his love to warm us while the rains of our sorrows water us. We are given ample opportunity to fertilize ourselves by His word, yet we don’t always take advantage of His available resources.

Some of us choose, sadly, to wither on the vine, preferring to never allow the Master Gardener the chance to prune, train, trim or nurture–we’ve even been known to actually rebuff His attempts.
A terrible waste of good fruit really.

So many of us spend our lives seeking God with hopes of establishing a deep rooted relationship with Him. Yet such relationships, as well as us each of us individually, are ever changing, growing, shifting and deepening. We scratch the surface finding some sense of satisfaction that only leads us to wanting more. We hunger and thirst for a deep feeding and watering as we long for sustenance that only He can offer. . .just like a tender plant yearns for and needs nourishment to survive. We find ourselves not only needing but wanting more of His time, His attentions, His care, His concern.
This becomes an unquenchable desire which spans the course of a lifetime.

So as I wander aimlessly surveying my tiny green orbs which dot my blueberry bushes like the decorations on a Christmas tree, all with a sense of great anticipation of things to come, I marvel at the fact that I myself am far from ripe—I’m just as green as my berries yet equally hungry for the warmth of His tender nourishment. . .

Prayers are now offered up for a deep feeding. . .
Here’s to His nurturing and our growing. . .