Our Own Grapevines and Fig Trees
Sometime last fall, I noticed for the first time since moving into my apartment seven years ago that there was an apple tree in the back of the complex. I was so excited to see this. Growing up a city girl didn’t give me many opportunities to sample such fruit – just there, out in the open, available to anyone. Eating one of those apples was a spiritual experience. Somehow, my soul spoke, “God is providing for us even in the midst of this seemingly simple gesture.” This spiritual-apple-experience helped me to fathom a message about sustenance without bias, about hope for more abundance and the anticipation of living into future days knowing down deep that God already had a plan.
Fast forward to a year like no other filled with fright and unknown challenges, grief and anticipated grief, fighting for what you thought was already yours, and questioning loyalties, while trying to stay healthy and safe. The prophet’s words reverberate like the chiming of a bell.
When I move past the words so often heard in sermons or Bible studies – “beating swords into plowshares” and “studying war no more,” I get stuck on the part about everyone sitting under their own grapevine and fig tree and not being afraid. I am reminded of the divine provision of God’s bounty. The prophet’s words are transformed into an anthem waiting to be belted out today. It becomes a hopeful tune that affirms God’s intention; a nod of permission for me to look beyond the nations and their complicity in our everyday struggles for equality and equity; beyond selfishness and the broken promises of an economic master that doesn’t love us toward the promise of abundance that God has for each of us – with our own grapevine and fig tree.
And we yearn for a time in our society when it is recognized that we equally deserve to be seen, to be heard, to delight in liberation while we reach up to heaven, available and willing to fulfill the destiny of personhood breathed into us by the very breath of God. Until then, we must be hopefully vigilant, anticipating the perfection that God has for us upon Christ’s return.
With thanksgiving we pray for resilience. During this Advent time, we hold fast to your promise of provision and peace. Please undergird our faith with your steadfast love and unmerited grace as we venture forth together with humility and resolve. Amen
Ruth T. West is an ordained PC(USA) Minister of the Word & Sacrament. In addition to a Masters of Divinity (MDiv), Ruth holds an MBA, Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction and a Certificate in Trauma & Spiritual Care. She is currently Associate Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary (University of Redlands) which facilitates the Doctor of Ministry program. As a Spiritual Director and Chaplain she has developed, prepared and presented spiritual, devotional and meditational practices mostly for groups. Ruth is continuing her ministry to people in transition by helping students, clergypersons and the greater community discern possible next steps in their ministry journey.