The slow process of growth

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I am eating feijoas from my feijoa tree! Not long ago I was surprised to see some good-sized fruit on the tree. They were unripe, but I picked some. We have fruit fly in our area and, sadly, fruit flies seem to like feijoas as much as I do! I figure if I’m quick, I may be able to beat them.

Let me backtrack a bit. 

I first tasted feijoa in my Year 8 English class at Benalla High School. It was a fruit I’d never seen before. My task was to experience the fruit and write creatively about it. I remember my delight at the taste and smell of this beautiful fruit. I told my family all about it, and looked out for it. I learned it is also called ”pineapple guava”.

My next experience of feijoa was in New Zealand. Feijoas do very well in Auckland. I didn’t have a tree, but I had friends with feijoa trees. Feijoas can have a lot of fruit. They are not ready for harvest until they are ripe and ready to fall. Typically, you would gather the fallen fruit each day. My kind friends would give me bags of feijoas. If I were lucky enough to have feijoas on hand, I would easily enjoy 15 or more at a time—scooping out the tasty flesh with a teaspoon.

Moving back to Australia, I wanted to grow my own feijoa bush. I purchased a small plant from a garden centre. Knowing you should have two or more for optimal fertility, I added to my collection. We rented for a bit and eventually settled. Now and then we got to see and taste a feijoa or two, or to lament the fruit flies which seem to be more industrious than us.

But this year . . .

This year we have a bumper crop. This year is our 20th anniversary for moving into our home in Albury. The last couple of weeks have been cold, maybe reducing fruit fly. We see a few stings, not as many as previous years. And this year we are seeing more fruit than we have ever seen before. The fruit I picked too early was okay, but the fruit that falls into my hand when I touch it, is delicious.

The last two Sabbaths have featured fruit in our local church—the fruit of the Spirit in the children’s story time both Sabbaths1, and today the mandarin as a metaphor of the potential Jesus sees in us as disciple-making disciples.2 My thoughts in between these Sabbaths as I gathered feijoas from my tree have been about patience and growth. For many years, I longed for feijoas and was sad my tree didn’t really have anything to offer. But my tree has been growing and developing and when the time was right, there was a bountiful harvest. Twenty years is a long time to wait to enjoy a bucket
 load of feijoas! 

Sometimes I am expecting a harvest too soon in other areas too–young people I know are still growing, putting down roots, experimenting with life choices. And I, myself, notice that my personal tree is not loaded down with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Years pass (drought, adversity, garden pests), but we are still growing, still developing, still putting down roots and putting out branches . . . 

There is a beautiful metaphor about a grapevine in John 15:5. If we remain connected to Jesus, there is a guarantee of growth and new life and a bountiful harvest for God’s kingdom.

1. Thank you, Geoff and Kerelyn, for your children’s stories. 

2. Thank you, Pastor Glenn Townend, for your sermon.

April Wood is a church librarian and on the Junior Sabbath school team at Albury church, NSW, where she also works at the local public library.

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