The crisp, white ceiling and brown fan are wavy tonight. The first, hot, mascara-tinted tears blaze trails over my temples and into my ears. It’s that kind of emotional night. I’m just being honest and vulnerable. I hope that’s okay.
What’s it all about? A little background may help. It’s been the kind of week that holds reminders of past tears. Confusing neural super highways connect dots in surprising ways, and suddenly memories intrude on the present. The polysyllabic professional term is transference; I call it an ugly traffic jam. Enough of that. Suffice it to say, it’s been one of those weeks with troubling memories. Maybe you’ve got a few of those that pop up from time to time, seemingly out of nowhere.
I was thinking about my relationships to family members when I was young. The one that seems the most difficult is with my dad. I could go on and on about how our perceptions of God are formed early by the relationship with our earthly fathers, but that’s been written a hundred times, and it’s not really my thing to head down over-traveled roads here. I’ll share that’s been my experience and the cause of some dissonance in my understanding of God at times. I gather I’m not alone.
Once upon a time, a stout tree grew in a warm, sunny orchard. It was rather different, standing taller, broader, in stark contrast to the others. The fruit tree nearly intimidated the orchard by its sheer presence. It boasted huge clumps of the shiniest, greenest leaves and produced fruit that was particularly beautiful in the eyes of those who came to pick at the orchard. But most felt uncomfortable approaching that tree, fearful of marring the picture-perfect image by intruding on its lovely fruit.
An apple from that impressive tree hoped to be picked one day, but the dream didn’t materialize on time. So, the apple, feeling bold and a little desperate, determined to let go, fall to the ground, and hope for someone to choose to pick it up. Time went by, the apple went through unexpected changes and bruising….
By now you’re wondering where this is all going. This little story isn’t too far from my story in many ways. (Hang with me here!)
My dad reminds me of the tree—strong, stout, a standout from the crowd, and very productive. He was a good provider for our family in many ways. Approachable may not be one of the first words that would come to mind when I’m looking for adjectives. He could be hard, strict, even intimidating.
The apple? Apples don’t fall far from—yeah, you know that one. I spent a good portion of my life looking for connection with others outside my family, and that strong desire ultimately led to some of the hardest times and the longest string of painful events. I was a bit bruised and changed by all of it.
And the point is…
Here’s where I go in my mind in a more “human” capacity. The apple is an apple because it’s the fruit of an apple tree. Earthly parents have so much impact on their children so very early in life, don’t they? There will always be strong connection, maybe even strong threads between them in appearance, behaviors and mannerisms, or preferences. Some of my tears tonight were shed for those connections that have been the most difficult to break (behaviors and preferences that don’t serve me well in life now). I’m an apple from an apple tree, and some of that tree is in me.
But, the sweet smell of grace…
Pardon me while I shift the metaphor slightly. We who follow Christ are branches. That metaphor is all over the Scriptures. I’m thankful for one specific thing—”a wild olive shoot” in Romans 11:17-18a:
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches.
There is a large portion of Romans 11 dedicated to the ingrafting. I am the ingrafting. Aren’t we all? And I am blown away by grace!
Li’l old me, a “wild shoot” (neither specially bred, hybridized, nor genetically modified) is picked up and grafted to the olive root, receiving all the benefits of the other branches seemingly more connected to that root. Truth is, grafting is an amazing process producing both strong and nearly seamless connection in time. It allows for all the same functions and fruiting “privileges” and abilities. The “nourishing sap” flows through all of the branches! It’s pretty cool, and it reminds me of the trees you can mail order that produce, like, five different kinds of fruit.
I imagine I’ve written better entries, but this one is precious to me because it reminds me of where I’ve been in my past…and what my present and future really holds. Ingrafting changes everything, does it not?
Thanks for dropping in. I’m off to sleep sweetly now, I hope.