My kids were not having a good morning.
My older kids were fighting with each other. My younger kids were following the not-so-excellent past actions of a couple of their older siblings. I had had enough!
Into my ‘War Room’ I went, knelt steadfastly in prayer and carried my cross to Jesus and asked for His help. Then, I turned to His mother, Our Blessed Mother and asked her to lead me to the place of Better-Motherhood, that elusive place where I would instinctively know what to do when the time was right. In closing, I began saying Hail Marys until I suddenly felt my heart burst full of warm fuzzies and sensed a sudden kind of calmness that I can’t even begin to explain.
My life had become a litany of, “You are in control of your choices, but not the consequences of your choices.” I felt like I was fighting a battle that I would never win.
Then, my mind wandered back to Sunday’s gospel. It dawned on me that the parable about the fig tree planted in the orchard was well-suited for this occasion. After all, many of the complaints of my older children stem from the natural consequences that come from not setting a good, or Godly, example for their younger siblings.
I gathered my children together and matter-of-factly stated, “Each one of you is a tree. Now, think in your mind, what kind of tree are you?” I then asked if they were the kind of tree that grows fast or slow, one that bears fruit or nuts, cones or leaves. I let them think a moment and then asked” If you are the kind of tree that bears fruit, what kind of fruit would you bear? Rotten, stinky fruit–or– big, huge, delicious apples?”
Next, I asked if fruit-bearing trees bear fruit in the very first year they are planted. The point I wanted to make is that it may take several years for a tree to bear fruit. The same goes with the consequences of our actions. It may take several years before we see the ‘fruit’ of our labors…whether the result is good or bad.
Since I was now on a roll with this whole tree analogy thing, I encouraged my children to visualize every choice they make as a tree they plant in the forest. I asked, “Are the trees you are planting the kind that live in harmony with the rest of the forest? Or are they ones that steal the sun for themselves and choke out all other living things (trees and surrounding vegetation)?”
I am happy to say that none of my children desired to be stinky, rotten, sun-stealing trees! And while the lesson seemed to sink in, I imagine there will be a lot of reforestation going on as my children begin to realize (hopefully sooner rather than later) that the tree they just planted might not quite be the right one to continue growing.