I have traveled to see family this summer, and when home have been fairly busy with the course I am teaching as well as doing therapy.  My longest trip was to Michigan to see family; I got back two weeks ago.  One of the first things I did the morning after I returned was look at the fig tree in my back yard.  There have been tiny unripe figs studding the branch tips for a couple months; I got back just after the first few dozen of these swelled and darkened to ripeness.  Since then, I’ve been picking figs every day or two.  They are a delicious treat.  I’ve made several batches of fig jam, enough to last until next summer.

I am very much a creature of the modern world, and, as such, live in an artificial environment.  I’m writing this at night, under artificial lights; my house maintains an artificial climate; at least some of the food I ate today had been embalmed in artificial preservatives.  As I’ve discussed earlier, such isolation from the natural world leads to fragmentation and lack of wholeness.  In a very small way, my fig tree connects me to the world of nature once again.  I wait for the figs to ripen; their season can’t be hurried.  I scrutinize them carefully, examining each fig so I can pick it when it is ripe.  I wrestle the branches to bring ripe figs within reach, aware that some are beyond my grasp and will feed the birds rather than me.  My fingers handle each fig as I either eat it or cut it up for jam, feeling its distinct contours, for, like snowflakes, figs are alike but at the same time unique.  My interactions with figs make me more attentive and sensitive to natural rhythms.  I am content to wait for each day’s bounty of ripened figs; most have matured by now, but the harvest still has another four or five days to go.  In his book Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, Eugene Peterson says “Hurry is a form of violence practiced on time.”  The figs are free from such violence, and, when I am waiting on them, so am I.