Did you ever make construction paper baskets when you were in school? We did, every May 1st. Making them was like a rite of spring or something. These several colored strips of paper carefully woven, glued, and stapled to hold a bounty of special potpourri. The only problem was, we had to find the potpourri or leave it empty, which was just not going to happen. This was now my mission, and later became a great teaching tool about life.
Making the baskets was easy, searching the neighborhood for the five blocks between school and home was not. I was determined not to shirk my duty in presenting my mother with the ritual basket. After all, my brothers did it, and so was I. Nothing—absolutely nothing was big enough to fill the basket. There was only one thing left to do—the standby filler used by my brothers and, yep, now by me—the apple and peach trees just beginning to bloom in the back yard.
Today, my fruit trees growing magnificently in my own backyard are carefully pruned and fertilized, watered, and harvested. Oh, the horror to think that kids would come and snip and pull at the small branches and blossoms, as I had done. Observing these not yet mature trees, I wonder how many branches we stopped from growing; how many apples and peaches we kept from becoming fruit; and if we had helped open the place for the disease that eventually killed the trees. As children, we were looking for an outcome, not the consequences.
God, made man and all that was created for a particular purpose. As a teacher, I have used the story of the basket and blossoms often, and ponder with the students, the value of the blossom to the eventual fruit and future seeds. How does that affect the expected harvest? Was it only a few apples and peaches we destroyed that year, and the years to come?
The contrast between the blossoms and we as humans is a bit trickier. How many mature adults do we possibly, and unthinkingly cut down in childhood by abusing their tender seeds that do not ripen into the maturity of their purpose? As Jesus taught, “You shall know them by their fruit.” And the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree …
If we will protect and help mature the seeds we have been given, our outcome for a full harvest will be a great investment in all we do. Remember—Father Adam was a gardener—and we’re part of his seed.