Poisoned Fruit

Most mornings I rise around 5:30 a.m.  It’s always quiet, usually dark, and the time of day when my heart and mind are most open to spiritual matters.  It is a time of reading, reflection and prayer; moments of mindful meditation before the noise of the world comes crashing in.

A few days ago, I began my day (re)reading James Every White’s book, Serious Times.  It’s written from the perspective of a theology professor and pastor who writes on Christian themes from an intellectual point of view and dares to ask the questions: “How can we make a difference in the world around us?  How can we make our lives matter?”  In essence, he asks how can we walk our talk and become living models (of our values) in a world that does not value the same?

One of the passages that stood out above the rest was on the subject of ‘fruits of the Spirit’: things such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control — values that are universal in nature, regardless of your particular religious affiliation, if any.  It’s a fitting analogy for me, having just planted a small apple tree in my back yard which is just now beginning to bear fruit, albeit still small in size and sour in taste.Apple

In his book he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is just that.  Fruit.  Fruit does not exist in and of itself.  It is something that is produced.  It comes from a life source — a branch or a vine.  A person does not decide to be patient, much less will to be patient.  Patience must be cultivated from its source.”  To which I would add:  Just like my apple tree, whose fruit will mature and ripen over the course of time, withstanding the elements of stormy weather and the threat of disease, our ‘fruits’ or values must be practiced — the refinement and maturation occurring amidst resistance, not ease.

It is easy to love when another is loving towards us.  It is easy to give when we are among others who are equally generous with their time, talents and resources.  It is easier to extend trust to others, too, when we do not fear their betrayal.  In leadership, we are more inclined to empower others when we feel secure in our own influence and advocate for what is right when there is nothing we stand to lose.

But what happens when we find ourselves moving amidst resistance?  What do we do when the stakes are high?  What happens when values clash or the ‘fruits’  become poisoned, producing instead seeds of disappointment, envy, pride, ego, hatred, bitterness, or selfishness that have taken root in another or perhaps even ourselves?  Do we meet them with more of the same, or can we counter with a hefty dose of compassion and forgiveness instead?  In the wake of disappointment, hurt or betrayal, is the answer more walls or can we first seek and open ourselves to understanding?

These days it’s harder than ever to avoid poisoned fruit, whether of our own making or another’s.  As humans, we are all flawed to varying degrees.  At some point or another, we have all messed up, screwed up or screwed off.  We have all been tempted and tested, too.  Yet just as our imperfection and differences have the power to divide us, so, too, can they be leveraged to unite us, for when we allow ourselves to see our own good in others or others’ shortcomings in ourselves, our perspective begins to change and the chance to make a different choice emerges.

I’m curious…

From the perspective of heart and values-aligned living and leadership, do you believe that if you can’t fight ’em, you might as well join ’em, or is there a better way?  Do you see yourself as a role model for others or are you just trying to get by in a difficult world?  How do you deal with ‘poisoned fruit’ (your own or others’) in your life?  What difference do you believe you can make?  As you extend yourself in the world, is there such a thing as ‘too high a price’ to live your values when the stakes are high?  

5 thoughts on “Poisoned Fruit

  1. Hi Sharon, I come at this from a bit of a different perspective. Hope that is ok.

    In my spare time I am a Paradigm Shifter. Email handle on personal email shifterp.

    I am also a recovering Drunk and Drug Addict, 29 years and counting recovering from a chronic terminal disease of cancer of the soul.

    I am a Libertarian, and a Deist. Deism is pretty cool, not a lot of folks understand it. It is simply a belief in God through Nature and Logic. Questions? Few answers! No book, no written down theology! Just look outside and see the majestic wonder. I spend most of my time in awe of the splendor.

    Now for most people whose theology demands more I do not have much for you except to share, if that is the way you demand to see things to make sense, that is the only way you are going to allow yourself to make sense out of anything. James Allen in his book WASN’T KIDDING! As A Man Thinketh!!!!!!! Cool book, google it!

    So having had a Spiritual Experience as a result of working the 12 Steps, did you know Time Magazine listed those 12 Steps as one of the most wonderful things that have happened on Earth in the last 100 years? As a result of DOING what the first 100 alcoholics who recovered an amazing transformation happened to me and is ongoing.

    I see the world totally different, my role, your role and God’s role? I suffer from a spiritual malady, not knowing who you are or understanding you, not knowing who I am and not understanding myself and not knowing who God is and understanding who God is.

    Hence like a bunch of the Founding Fathers of this great country………..Deism! I do not know, neither does anyone else so why try to memorize and pretend? OUCH! We are operating as human beings on around 7% of our brains capacity so ANYONE coming at me with absolute belief systems with 93% of the information not avaliable is in short to me, beyond ridiculous. Many do though, don’t they?

    So today from my perspective I start everyday out listening to some prayers out of the AA Big Book. They tell me in short to ask for my Higher Power to do with me as he/she sees fit and that he/she can use me to be of maximum service to myself and his/her other kids. Your will HP, not mine be done.

    So I am a Spiritual Free Agent. Not joining any team. So that means the Christians if they follow what their book says is I got eternal damnation waiting on me if I do not join their team! The Muslims say they got a stick to take out my eyes as an infidel. The Buddhist says I will just go through life Unenlightened unless I do as they suggest and on and on from each team! I do not know Sharon but not really seeing it as spiritual progress going from generic to joining a team that views others in these ways. So I will remain by choice generic, teamless is my choice of Spiritual Understanding. Then again that means I am on the Ultimate Team, All God’s Kids! Kinda cool that way!

    Not saying that works for anyone else, that it is Ultimate Truth, just what works for me.

    Hope to share a wonderful story with you that has warmed my heart everytime I have read it. Hope you google it and read it and it touches your heart as it has mine.

    It is called The Rabbi’s Gift! I try to live it everyday.

    Not sure if that helps answer any questions you are posing. Just want to thank you for giving me a chance to share from my heart where I am coming from.

    Truth in my experience comes in 3 stages.

    1. Ridiculed
    2. Violently opposed
    3. Accepted as Self Evident

    Did you known the science guys have discovered we have 64 DNA strands? We have only had in our human developement as a species switched on 20!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Bet more of that 93% we do not know about will be revealed as more of those DNA stands are switched on! How about you? Maybe more to be revealed????????

    Just as excited as all get out to be alive and awake and hope you experience today in like fashion!

    Or not, as you think, you perceive, no other way around it! Your choice, period.

    So if your life today is a song, what does it sound like?

    Many thanks for letting me share.

    I Concur!

    Shifterp OUT to feel my song all day long.

    Lastly my favorite quote out of the back of the AA Big Book

    “There is a principle that is proof against all arguments that is bound to keep a man/woman in everlasting ignorance, that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer

    Kinda cool quote, huh?

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  2. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Scott. This post was not intended to advocate for a particular religion or to be critical of others’ belief systems in any way. I believe there are universal principles of character that unite us all, many of which are incorporated into the 12 step program, most significantly, forgiveness.

    Rather, it was intended to explore how we move through life and hold on to our values in the face of resistance, serve as role models for others, and leverage our collective differences, including our short-comings, for positive change.

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    • Yes Sharon and I do what you intended in your post by asking in the morning for my HP to take my will. Use me in whatever fashion he sees fit for me to be of maximum service to him/her.

      Starting the day out like this when I bump into life I can rely on what the AA Big Book calls our sixth sense. Then just do the next right thing in front of me. The guidance is always there if I ask and listen.

      Seems to work lots better for me than memorizing and pretending like what I was taught as a child.

      Hope that helps to clarify. Did feel that was in my original words to you.

      Take care,

      Scott

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  3. Sharon – what a beautiful post! So thought provoking in so many ways. I heard a sermon recently which offered that life is a continuous discernment of what to hold onto, and what to let go of. What is core, what is accoutrement. Clarifying our values, and knowing what we are willing to let go of when those values are challenge, is indeed the essence of how we define ourselves. Not always an easy task!

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    • Lori, I love your choice of words here — core vs. accoutrement. It hits home as I, along with several other friends, continue to navigate the complex emotional landscape that accompanies a close friend or family member struggling with serious disease and/or terminal illness. In these moments, the non-essentials slip away, losing their grip on our lives as we gain greater clarity and appreciation for what is truly core…what truly matters. Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts and for your friendship. -Sharon

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