Of Figs and Other Sweet Things

The fig trees on the Outer Banks are exploding with goodness right now. I know this because my friends are making strawberry and fig jam like it’s the second coming, and my dog is enjoying a tasty treat every time we walk by our neighbor’s tree. Georgia roots around on the ground looking for just the right one and then helps herself. She is part of the Fallen Fig Cleanup Team for the street.

Our passage today talks about figs and a lot of other sweet things. The sweetness of young love. The sweetness of spending time with your beloved. The sweetness of an invitation to go away and spend some time just appreciating the beauty of God’s earth. The sweetness of doing nothing but noticing the flowers and the voice of the turtle dove.

It occurs to me that the flowers and the birds are there all the time. Maybe this is an invitation to stop what you are doing so that you can notice them as well.

Song of Solomon 2 (New Revised Standard Version)

The voice of my beloved!
    Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away.

We are invited today to hear God calling us to arise and come away. He loves us with an everlasting love and comes to us with the passion and the intention of a beloved. He longs to soothe us with the smell of fragrant blossoms and the sight of beautiful vistas. If only we would look up.

Our time and attention for the last fourteen months have been focused on the traumatic events around us. The daily events we experience on the news leaves a sour taste in our souls. We are filled with bitterness, and long for something sweet. Isn’t it time to take a break? When we are surrounded with people and events we can’t control, that is the time to give over our anxiety to the One who controls everything.

Come away! Smell the sweetness God has prepared for you this day. God beckons you to arise…will you come away from your troubles for just a moment?

Come Away by Michelle Robertson

Befriending Your Brokenness

Last week I told my congregation a story that came out of India. There once was a water bearer who had two large water pots in which he carried water from the river to his master every day. One of the pots was perfect. The other one had a crack in it. The perfect pot always arrived at the master’s quarters perfectly full. The cracked pot was always half empty. Embarrassed and ashamed, the cracked pot said to his carrier one day, “Why don’t you get rid of me? I never arrive at the master’s quarters more than half full.”

”Ah,” replied the water bearer, ”you don’t know the full story. Look beside the road where I carry you each day. There are flowers growing that I pick for the master’s table. The flowers only bloom on your side of the road. It is your cracked pot that waters them.”

Isn’t that an inspiring story for all of the cracked pots reading this today???

Scripture: Psalm 147: 2-5 (NRSV)

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.

This beautiful Psalm speaks of brokenness. It reminds us that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Brokenness is everywhere. All around us are people dealing with broken hearts, broken bodies, broken dreams, broken relationships, broken thoughts, broken jobs, broken social lives, broken promises, broken minds….brokenness has been part of who we are since Adam and Eve broke the covenant with God in the garden.

In his wonderful book The Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen suggests that we befriend our brokenness by embracing it, acknowledging it, and owning up to it. This is far preferable to running away from it. The first step to healing is not a step away from the pain of brokenness, but a step toward it. Attempting to avoid, repress, or escape the pain is like cutting off a limb that could be re-attached if it only had proper attention.

Nouwen asserts that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we desire, but instead it can become the means to it. But he cautions that we can’t do it alone. We need someone to stand with us in the brokenness, to remind us that there is peace beyond the anguish, life beyond death, and love beyond fear.

Are you broken? What is the source of your anguish? Where is God calling you to lay down your broken pieces and let him make something beautiful out of them?

As you make your way through it, find a friend. Ask for help. Go to a therapist, a church, a clergy person, a trusted family member, and get someone to come alongside of you. Nouwen is right. If we befriend our brokenness with someone who has befriended us, we will find hope at the end of the journey together.

God will use your brokenness to bring forth beautiful flowers, if you let him. Everyone and everything can be repaired, and you will find meaning and value in the hands of the Master. You are the Beloved!

Broken Shell Planter by Jan Wilson