22 Oct 2017
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

15 Oct 2017
This Too Shall Pass

8 Oct 2017
The Simple Truth: Head, Heart and Hands

1 Oct 2017
Humility – Staying close to the ground

2 Jul 2017
Welcoming the Silence

25 Jun 2017
Always Uniting…

18 Jun 2017
Are you ready for harvest?

11 Jun 2017
Don’t Blame it on the Snake

4 Jun 2017
Words Beyond Words: Breath Beyond Breath

28 May 2017
Seeing with new eyes

14 May 2017
Grace, Gracious and Graceful

30 Apr 2017
A Time for war and a time for peace

23 Apr 2017
Faithful Doubting

16 Apr 2017
God became human so that we could become divine!

12 Mar 2017
Wind of the Spirit

12 Feb 2017
From the Mountainside: The Impossible Dream?

22 Jan 2017
Grounding our Life and Faith

25 Dec 2016
That Humanity should become Divine

11 Dec 2016
Joy is for Everyone

4 Dec 2016
The Mingling of Water and Spirit

27 Nov 2016
Living Fully in the Present Moment

16 Oct 2016
Persistence and Justice

9 Oct 2016
Gratitude and Thankfulness

2 Oct 2016
Standing in the Tragic Gap

25 Sep 2016
Rich Man, Poor Man

4 Sep 2016
The Gift of Freedom

21 Aug 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

14 Aug 2016
We all need wise words to live by

31 Jul 2016
When Less is More

24 Jul 2016
Developing Healthy Relationships

17 Jul 2016
Died Wise

10 Jul 2016
Meeting Strangers on the Road

3 Jul 2016
On the Road Again

29 May 2016
Faith is the Answer

22 May 2016
The Way of Wisdom

15 May 2016
Icons and Stained Glass Windows – Inner light

8 May 2016
Unity and Oneness

1 May 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

24 Apr 2016
Lest we forget: What?

17 Apr 2016
God became human so that we could become divine!

3 Apr 2016
Thank God for St Thomas!

27 Mar 2016
Living life’s great contradictions

20 Mar 2016
Message of Peace

13 Mar 2016
Living Fully, Loving Wastefully

6 Mar 2016
Come Home, all is forgiven

28 Feb 2016
Simply, leave it alone

21 Feb 2016
Why do we “kill” our prophets?

7 Feb 2016
Keeping your Head in the Clouds


Simply, leave it alone

28 February, 2016 Luke 13:6-9 Lent 3 By Rev Dr Christopher Page

The Fig Tree
“Enlightenment doesn’t occur from sitting around visualising images of light, but from integrating the darker aspects of the Self into the conscious personality.”  
~Carl Jung

There are two major stories about figs in the New Testament.  One is about Jesus cursing a fig tree for not producing out of season… Not an easy story to understand.  And the second is this one.  Here the fig also has not produced fruit, but this time for three years.  And like any barren tree it is merely ornamental with little use to the farmer.

A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.  So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?'  He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.  If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'

First Comes Compassion.
So let’s be clear that we are not just talking about a fig tree.  This is not primarily a lesson on horticulture.  Like most if not all of the parables and stories we find in the New Testament, this is a metaphor for those who are on the spiritual journey.  This story falls on the third Sunday of Lent and it is meant for us to reflect on the dry and barren times of life.  This fig tree is not up to scratch.  It is not doing what it should do, what it was designed to do, and that is produce fruit.  The clear, efficient and rationalist approach is to cut it down and make room for another plant that will do the necessary job.  The gardener who has cared for the tree stands against this.  Give it another year, he says.

Preachers love to tell stories about themselves.  When I was in grade 3 at Upper Mt Gravatt primary school, it was recommended that I repeat the year because I was a year younger than most in the class.  I repeated grade 3 and this “brilliant” scholar now stands before you!! Compassion always calls us to see the potential in the person rather than just where they are at that moment.

But it is more than that. I believe the gardener for whatever reasons loved the tree. He wanted to nurture it at least for another year, even though it had not performed to its potential. This is where I think the most important thing we can ever do is to nurture our souls, our inner being, and that means loving the great gift of life that has been given to us.

Simply leaving it alone
There is a second aspect to this fig tree story and that is, while nurture and care are essential, there is also the sense that if one just leaves the tree to itself it will bear fruit. Nurture and care must never be at the cost of making an individual dependent on another.  Now, we are using a metaphor here and the growth of this tree is, as mentioned, symbolic of our spiritual growth.  And when it comes to spiritual growth it is more about “leading out” rather than “filling up.”  That is based on the premise that one already knows what is necessary in order to grow in maturity.  What is required is to create a healthy, nurturing environment around the person.

The aphorism “When the student is ready the teacher will come” is very true.  Sometimes just leaving a person alone will be enough for them to begin to experience that inner truth and inner light.  It is the Quakers who can teach us much in this area.  When a person listens, not only to the sounds out there, but also to the sounds in here, wisdom and insight can begin to grow.  And surprisingly to our 21st Century minds, that can happen in silence.  Silence creates space for us to nurture ourselves.

Sadly, the history of the Christian faith has over-emphasised love of the other and under-emphasised love of the self.  The life that has been gifted to you and me.  Of course this is not to condone selfishness, greed, self-aggrandisement, but rather to say that the greatest – and you could say the primary – gift you have been given by the source of life in the universe is you – your life and what it can be in this world.

Nurturing Your Soul by Loving Yourself
I think the gardener who is going to nurture this tree for the next 12 months is saying a lot about how we nurture our own souls.  I recently came across this article written by the great actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin for his seventieth birthday.  This is what he wrote and it may sound strange to some:

As I Began to Love Myself – by Charlie Chaplin

  • As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

  • As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

  • As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

  • As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at exactly the right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

  • As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

  • As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

  • As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right and ever since, I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

  • As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILMENT”.

  • As I began to love myself I recognised that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

  • We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing, new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

Our souls are a garden that needs to be nurtured.  Yes, there are aspects of our lives that need trimming, but it is love combined with nurture that is the most important thing we can use to grow what we need to live full and fulfilling lives.  And most often, if we are just aware of our lives and aren’t over-awed or over-cautious, we will achieve that goal.

Keep up to date with the latest Toorak Uniting news