We have a small lemon tree in our back yard. As soon as we found out we would be stationed in such an incredible climate, I knew I wanted to have some kind of fruit-bearing tree in our back yard. After much deliberation, I decided on a lemon tree. I love the flavor and there are so many things you can make. From simple lemon water to lemon curt. Sunshine pies and lemon tarts. It all makes me happy!
The catch with growing your own fruit, in case you didn’t think of this already, is that the fruit has to actually grow. Not only does it have to grow, the tree has to have matured enough to even produce the fruit. Once the tree is old enough, you have to wait for the proper season for the fruit to ripen.
I was so excited for the first harvest, which took forever. The tree was a bit confused about what season it was in. Lemons ripen in the winter. It flowered for the first time in late winter and by March had a solitary lemon growing. I had to wait nearly a year for that single lemon to ripen. When it finally did, the tree had re-flowered and I had a whole host of lemons waiting for me. It was delicious!
Apparently the tree was so excited about this first harvest it decided to give a second a go, (mature lemon trees, especially in this climate, are capable of multiple harvests). Unfortunately, my lemon tree is not quite that mature. So, here I am again, this time with at least 15 lemons half-grown and green as grass (which I should clarify, green as grass in the Midwest, grass is pretty brown around here presently).
Both last year and this year, I had so many people question me on these frozen-in-time lemons. “Maybe it’s just a lime tree.” “Are you sure it’s actually a lemon tree?” Even after a harvest of lemons, still I’m getting the questions. Just the other day, one of the neighbor boys was over and asked about the tree and why the fruit wasn’t growing. When I explained that it was a lemon tree, he looked at me like I was pulling his leg, chuckled a bit, and headed home.
All of this got me thinking about outside vs. inside and what kinds of judgments we make based on appearances. Part of our broken nature since the first sin of Adam and Eve is our tendency to judge one another. Before Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they walked freely in the garden, without judgment, jealousy or suspicion of one another. After their sin, they covered themselves, ashamed of their nakedness and I would infer also because, fearful of judgment from the other.
When I stop and think about it, I wonder how much time and effort in any given day I waste being concerned about what others may be thinking of me or what judgments they could be making. Really, how much time do you spend? And if you say, “None, I don’t care what people think” you should probably stop and look a bit deeper. We all, in some corner of our heart, want the approval of others. We want to be accepted, embraced and loved by our community – community of family, neighborhood, church, work, relationships, etc.
Once we recognize that we desire acceptance and love, the next logical step is to see how others seek our acceptance and love. Check out this song by Brandon Heath called Give Me Your Eyes. The chorus goes:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see
When God looks at us, He sees us as the creatures He loved into being. One of the challenges of being a Christian is to learn to see as God sees. Jesus gave humanity a new way of perceiving. The last shall be first. Love your enemy. Blessed are the poor, the meek, the persecuted. The Good Samaritan. The list goes on. Outward appearance, prestige, power, wealth, honor, all these pale in comparison to a heart seeking God along paths of mercy, faith, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.
When we see as God sees, we discover each person has gifts and talents that are invaluable to the community. Everyone has a part to play in building the Kingdom of God here on earth. When I sacrifice who God made me because I’m not because I’m trying to please someone or I’m concerned about being judged, I’m not building the Kingdom of God. I’d much rather be an under-ripe lemon, still growing and maturing into the person God made me, than a lime masquerading as a lemon.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary, a young girl on the outside, became the mother of Jesus. Her inner strength and willing submission to God’s will brought her the greatest joy and the greatest sorrow. May we each see in her the model of the perfect disciple, especially today. Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for Us!