Sunday night, five of us were driving back from “Kung Fu Panda.” Gemma was at the wheel, I was riding shot-gun, and TJ, Wendy, and Lana were piled in the back. We talked about our favorite parts of the movie … mine was the Peach Tree of Wisdom. This reminded Lana of a story!
The last time we all went to the movies, Gemma introduced us (via CD) to an inspirational, African-American preacher who told us about his peach tree of wisdom. Lana had been listening, and this is what she recalled.
Basically, when this preacher was young, he ate a peach one afternoon, and his father told him that if he planted the seed, it would grow into a tree. So he planted it. The next day, bursting with expectation, the young preacher-to-be ran out into the backyard to see the tree. But there wasn’t one. There was nothing. The ground, in which he had planted the seed, gave not even the slightest hint of the promised peach tree.
When he came to check the next day, matters were exactly the same. So it was the next day and the next day and the next. On the fifth day, the youngster’s father found him in the backyard crying.
“Why are you crying?” his father asked him.
The young man explained himself. His father had promised that a peach tree would grow from the seed if he planted it. He had planted it, but days later there was nothing!
The father might have been tempted to laugh, but he didn’t. Instead, he got down on his knees and explained to his son that peach trees take four to five years to grow and produce fruit.
Years later, the disappointed boy who became a preacher had a point to make about that peach tree. His own father had promised that a peach tree would grow from the seed he planted, which was true, but not immediately obvious.
In a similar way, God the Father gives us promises. They are true promises, and they will come to pass. But we often expect them in five days instead of five years.
When I got back home from the movies, meditating on what Lana had recalled, I decided to read a little bit about peach trees. It turns out that, yes, they flourish in Georgia, but otherwise, they can be notoriously difficult to cultivate. They won’t tolerate excessive moisture; their roots need proper drainage. They must have “chill hours,” that is, 200-450 hours of 32-45 degree cold weather that somehow helps produce fruit. To get good fruit, the gardener has to protect the tree from bugs and worms and brown-rot. To get full fruit, the gardener has to prune diligently, getting rid of tons of tiny peaches when they’re just dime-sized. Some peach tree varieties produce peaches as early as May 1st while, on the other hand, the MidPeach doesn’t bear until around July 4th. And like the preacher’s daddy told him, peach trees grown from the seed don’t usually produce at all until they’re about four or five years old. (Questions on Peaches)
All these facts put me in mind of the biblical parable of the fig tree. According to this parable recorded in the gospel of Luke, a man plants a fig tree, but in the third year, it still hasn’t produced any figs. He complains to the gardener and orders him to cut it down. But the gardener asks for one more year to dig and dung: that is, to cultivate the unproductive tree. The gardener says that if, in the fourth year, there is no fruit, he will cut the tree down himself. The man agrees.
With this parable in mind, I decided to look up some information about fig trees, too. I concluded that the man who planted the fig had every right to be frustrated.
Fig trees usually take one year to produce fruit, two at the most. Certain varieties of fig produce twice a year, in June and September! Figs need a lot of water in their first year, but the fig is a hardy tree that can survive drought conditions. It’s roots are shallow, not deep. (Carpe ficus) In other words, the fig tree is nothing like the peach tree.
This prompted a thought in my mind. When I examine the promises God has made me, I might well ask, “Is this a peachy promise or a figgy one?”
I think figgy promises are the kind that are made and then quickly fulfilled. Within a year of hearing them, we are already eating the fruit of the figgy promise! But peachy promises are different.
Time and even effort may be required to see these latter kind of promises come to pass. Five years would not be a long time to wait for a peachy promise to be fulfilled. No, four or five years would actually be the necessary amount of time for a peach tree to produce fruit.
I believe this is worth bearing mind.
From “The House Of Dust: Part 02: 07: Two Lovers: Overtones”
“‘I brought you this . . . ‘ the soft words float like stars
Down the smooth heaven of her memory.
She stands again by a garden wall.
The peach tree is in bloom, pink blossoms fall,
Water sings from an opened tap, the bees
Glisten and murmur among the trees.
Someone calls from the house. She does not answer.
Backward she leans her head,
And dreamily smiles at the peach-tree leaves, wherethrough
She sees an infinite May sky spread
A vault profoundly blue.”