I feel like a little child writing this, and that's probably a good thing.
I discovered something this past Christmas; specifically I found it on Epiphany, aka Three Kings' Day. Actually, my husband found it for me. I wanted to spread my table with good and exotic breads and fruits to represent the region the Wise Men likely came from, so I asked my husband to please go to the store and find for me some apricots, dates and figs.
He brought them home, dried fruit, and teased me about how expensive they were - particularly the small bags of organic, unsweetened dates and figs. I was delighted as I placed them in little bowls before the wooden carving of the Wise Men on my dining room table, three little bowls for each of the Three Kings. Of course, I had to try the dates and figs first myself. The dates were good, delicately flavored, but the figs! Shesh, that was quite a strong flavor and texture, very chewy and very spicy. A little bite went a long way, I promise you.
When our dear friends left after the party, I had almost two full bags of dates and figs left, and my husband admonished, "You better eat them or take the unopened bags back to the store!"
"I will; I will."
The dates were not a problem, but the figs...I wasn't so sure I could grow accustomed to them. Yet, I didn't want to return them. I was sure they were good for me, so I began cutting those dried bell-shaped fruits into manageable pieces, twisting off the hard nub at the top, and then eating them slowly, relishing the natural spicy kick in the little seeds.
A strange thing happened. The more I ate the more I began to think about Jesus. Each time I bit into a fig, I felt connected to him (like all those times I tell my youngest children to eat their fish, because it's good for their brains, and Jesus ate tons of it while hanging out with his fishermen disciples). Did he like figs particularly? I don't know, but when he came to a fig tree one day, very hungry, and found leaves but no fruit, he cursed it. When his disciples discovered that it had actually withered to its roots the following day, they were astonished, and Jesus told them, "Have faith in God." (Mark 11:12-14, 20-23)
He also used figs to help illustrate a point about people professing themselves to be what they are not: "By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit." (Matthew 7:15-20)
There is also the parable about the need for repentance and the great gift of a second, third, fourth chance, the gift of mercy and intercession, in his story of the fruitless fig tree. (Luke 13:6-9)
So, you see, I began to have this warm glow every time I ate this strange, dried, chewy fruit, and I felt a little childish but happy when I confessed to my husband, "Every time I have a fig, I feel connected to Jesus. I know that's funny."
But my husband must have understood what I meant, because when my sweet daughter Ana and I had eaten our very last fig, he came home from the store one day with another bag as if to say, Hey, whatever works, works.
Whatever reminds you of the love of Christ is a good thing.
This was first published on my faith blog, Seeking the Prince of Peace, in February 2014. I am presently working on two new, very different posts and hope to present them to you, my readers, soon. Happy 2015 to each and every one of you!