Lovin' Late Bloomers
by Wes Wick
Posted: December 26, 2015
A revived persimmon tree with high-hanging fruit provides a lesson in reaching folks in their later seasons who seem destined to be fruitless…
With this article we introduce Wes Wick as our newest contributor. Wes and his wife Judy are founders and directors of YES! (Young Enough to Serve). Thanks to David Noreen, founding editor of SeniorLifestyle, for introducing us to Wes.
I don't know if I had ever tasted persimmons before. They showed up unexpectedly at our doorstep.
No, it wasn't a gracious neighbor dropping them by. They literally fell out of the sky.
Let me back up a bit. We live in a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's beautiful but sometimes shade from the towering trees can be a bit overpowering. It starts getting dark pretty early at our home. A late afternoon drive into town, just ten minutes away, can feel like we've suddenly changed time zones, moving from the shadows into brilliant sunlight.
So earlier this year, being a thoughtful, problem-solving husband, I surprised my wife, Judy, by cutting down four large deciduous trees on our property while she was away---to help provide more sunlight and to create a better view of our 200-foot redwoods. (We couldn't see the forest for the trees.)
As you might already guess, this was one of those thoughtful surprises that wasn't appreciated to the degree I was hoping. Summer solstice and climate change teamed up for some unseasonable heat. Judy immediately began cherishing the good ol' days of more filtered sunlight.
Some of our shade plants also protested, making it clear they too weren't ready for full sun.
(Be patient. Don't lose sight of the big picture. We can plant some new trees that will grow back in twenty years to cover my mistake. What's the big deal!?)
Okay, enough of the downside and my failure to consult with the love of my life. We did have one occupant on our property that welcomed the new burst of sunshine. A sweet, unexpected surprise came in the form of a formerly barren fruit tree---now full of persimmons!
NEVER KNEW WHAT WE HAD
We've lived in our current home for 17 years. One of our favorite deciduous trees stands right outside our kitchen door. Great shape, beautiful green leaves, lush, healthy. We never complained about it not producing fruit because it never even crossed out minds that it was a fruit tree. We just appreciated its other qualities.
But once the aforementioned pruning invited the sunshine in, this persimmon tree began surprising us with its deeper, God-ordained unique purpose:producing persimmons.
Hmmm. It's not much of a stretch to make some spiritual applications. Know any likable, older someones who have yet to discover they were created to bear fruit? Are we quietly casting shadows, also allowing former bearers of fruit to think their fruitful days are now over?
We hear a lot about the practicality of going after low-hanging fruit. "Go for the easy ones." But in this case I didn't really have a choice. The fruit was all hanging high. It took a tall ladder and a telescoping pole pruner to reach the fruit. I then played a quick-handed game of snip and catch. (For the record, I was 11 for 11 until my streak ended. A few plummeting persimmons slipped through my grasp.)
Who around us might represent high-hanging fruit? We understand how going after low-hanging fruit can build confidence and momentum, but let's be honest. There is a lot of high-hanging fruit that we're ignoring and never making the effort to reach. (We're told only 1.2% of new Christian converts are over the age of 60, definitely moving older adults into the harder-to-reach category. This high-hanging fruit can take more effort, but the rewards are eternal and can lead to much more fruit-bearing.)
Surprisingly, our vine-ripe persimmons are very tasty even though we waited until mid-December to pluck them.It's a strange time of year to be harvesting fruit, but there they were, still clinging to the tree after the first frost helped strip every leaf. Waiting patiently after all these years and late into the season, they were finally picked and appreciated.
We know some folks in their later seasons of life who seem destined to die fruitless, never discovering their greater purpose in life. Sadly, perhaps we and other accomplices aren't expecting anything special to emerge from their lives. Their spiritual fruit-bearing potential hasn't even crossed our minds. They, like our persimmons, deserve our attention.
They may be up in the higher branches, seemingly out of reach, where a bit more effort and ingenuity are needed to steward their fruit---to keep them from wasting away on the vine, and to avoid hard landings. Especially in December when it's unseasonably late, cold and difficult.
Thanks, Lord, for this new gift of our old persimmon tree! May it remind us of our calling, as we look for more late-season December miracles.
This post appeared on the YES (Young Enough to Serve) website December 18, 2015 - used by permission
Wes, with his wife Judy, are founders and directors of YES! - Young Enough to Serve, an interdenominational ministry that exists to help churches and ministries engage the serving and disciple-making potential of adults--from fifty to a hundred-plus. Before founding YES!, Wes and Judy were engaged in church ministry, college administration, and consulting.• E-mail the author (gro.evresotsey@kciwsew*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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