“You will know them by their fruits”. Reminds me of the billboard proclaiming that God wants spiritual fruit not religious nuts. The photos here were all taken in this country but I’ve been amazed to discover how many times trees get mentioned in the Bible. I’m reflecting on a few of them in tomorrow’s services. Fruit trees appear in the Genesis story of creation – along with plants the first vegetation to appear on dry land, crucially containing seed. So the importance of seed was recognised all those years ago. To those of us used to buying seed in packets, and to those who take out patents on seeds, a bit more reflection wouldn’t go amiss.
In the book of Judges there’s a parable of trees looking to choose a king but each recognising that their own unique gifts are more important than lording it over the other trees. So the olive knows how important its oil is, the fruits of the fig are delicious, the vine produces wine which cheers gods and mortals. Finally the bramble agrees to be king – a mixed blessing which made the original listeners realise they hadn’t acted with the best of motives.
Trees are fascinating. They can be tiny and fragile, or huge and imposing. They can cling on in unlikely places, and the strongest looking once blown down in a gale can turn out to have surprisingly shallow roots. Lots of scope for parallels with human life. I’m tempted to suggest we all go outside tomorrow and choose a tree to look at or sit under. But I guess I’ll not go that far so I’d better go and write a bit more for the morning. Spiritual fruit, not religious nuts – better not get the seeds mixed up.
I’ve just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. What a brilliant book. I first read it over ten years ago. I was initially reluctant because it looked like it might just be about the worst of religion. I knew enough about that. But it has so much more depth to it than a superficial swipe at Christians getting it wrong. The numerous ways we can get it wrong could be summed up by the phrase “Jesus is bangala”. Depending on the exact pronunciation of “bangala” this either means “Jesus is precious” or “Jesus is poisonwood”. Suspicious of the interpreter, the preacher tries to use the local language himself and you can guess which message he often ends his ranting sermons with. There is a lot of fascinating play with language – from the daughter who constantly gets words slightly wrong, to the one who deliberately turns words round and can read back to front as easily as forwards. I was much more aware of this on my second reading (or perhaps I just hadn’t remembered it so clearly).
There are the vastly different characters of the mother and four daughters with the legacy they each carry of their supposedly similar experiences – experiences in the Congo and of their family. There’s the learning curve of realising how much labels can mislead – whether the label is to do with race, colour, religion, politics, gender, disability, love, hate, family…. Any label has limitations. Maybe this is all sounding very worthy and I suppose it is. But it’s also a really good read in the best tradition of family sagas. Each of Kingsolver’s books that I’ve read has been very different. She obviously does a huge amount of research. I look forward to trying other titles and re-reading those already on my shelves.
There is a link between the phone box and public transport – read on!
Bit of a break since my last posting. With less than 3 weeks to go now till our trip I’m going to try and get into it more.
In the last few days I’ve seen the best and worst of public transport provision. Facebook friends may have seen that I chased the bus in my car to get Martyn onto it. That only works if you have immediate access to a car. A friend waited for buses for well over 2 hours, eventually accepting a lift from someone. Timetables are confusing. Buses don’t always come when they say they will, or they do come when you’re not expecting them. On our spur of the road you can’t be sure which direction the bus will be coming. If there’s a logic it’s not immediately obvious.
But today I got the train into Oban £3.70 with Highland railcard. Got there 11.30, got a few things done, had lunch with my mum, did a few more things, and got a bus back leaving 2.10 (£6.60), home 2.50. Not cheap but then neither would using the car have been cheap. I read on the train, enjoyed the view on the way back. Chatted to various people I knew both on the streets, and on train and bus. If public transport was always as easy and pleasant as that perhaps a lot more people would use it.
So why this photo? Not knowing his involvement, a bus driver told Martyn that he slows down and tells his passengers to look at this phone box. There are tomatoes and mint in it now and plans afoot for various artistic creations. If it brightens up the journey, and slows the bus on that little bit of road, that’s a bonus.