I’ve been taking some time (and some photos) out in my yard as I enjoy the nice weather. I love the sights, sounds and smells of nature. I have several fruit trees in my yard. Most are still rather young and are not yet producing fruit. As I walked near our pond recently, I noticed that our peach tree wasn’t looking all that great. The bottom half looked good, but the top 2 or 3 feet looked pretty sad. There were some leaves on the top, so I knew it was still alive all the way up, but it was rather bare beneath that. This is what the top looked like:
I have learned from many years of dealing with all types of plants, that sometimes the best thing for the health of the plant is to remove the unhealthy portion (in this case, the top of a peach tree) in order for the rest to thrive. This is also true of the relationship between religion and life. Sometimes, even though you are afraid to remove something from your life that you think you need, it is necessary in order to be healthy once more.
I looked at this sad, little tree and I looked back at my life and I soon realized that we were not so different. The Bible speaks of “good and bad fruit” when talking about people. Matthew 7:17-20 says,”…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” This was referring to false prophets, but I find that it is a good illustration of what happens when people are blinded by religion. They cannot be truly free and truly happy because they have an unhealthy portion of their life draining their potential. Their “fruit” is usually identified as being divisive, bigoted, self-righteous and based on myth. The ones preaching against bad trees with bad fruit are usually the ones hurling their own rotten fruit at anyone who is different than they are.
When I was a Christian, I was just like the sad little tree in my yard. I was alive, but not healthy. Like the tree, I had vigor and vitality building up deep within, but the dying, almost parasitic portion of my life (religion) was taking much needed nutrients from the rest of me. I wanted to be free and enjoy all that life had to offer, yet I was still allowing this parasite of bare limbs to remain on my tree of life. The top of this tree was still technically alive, but was not thriving. It was just there, taking away from the rest of the healthy tree. I decided it was time to do some pruning. I removed the dying portion of the peach tree and also the dying portion of myself.
What’s left of the peach tree is now free to grow and be healthy. What’s left of me is free to do the same. With religion attached to my life, I was alive but I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t able to grow properly and produce the fruit I was meant to produce. I was a bad tree, producing bad fruit and at times, no fruit at all. Because I was still alive and functioning, I assumed all was well. For a long time, I couldn’t see that my leaves were dying and my growth was stunted. Once my eyes were opened, I could see that I was not healthy, but was instead withering and dying. I made the decision I never thought I’d need to make. There was a part of my life keeping me from growing and I had to let it go.
I am excited to see the peach tree grow. I know it will do just fine and get large and full. I am also excited to see myself grow. I finally saw what was holding me back and I removed it from my life. All that’s left to do now is take advantage of my new health and live life to the fullest. If I can do that, then life can be a peach.