And to think it is May

By: Simeon Dumdum Jr. May 10,2015 - 11:40 AM

crowded garden

Many varieties of fruit trees, herbs and flowers grow around the house. We only have a small area but somehow we have managed to cram into it a good number of trees — limonsito, avocado, guyabano, nangka, Bengal currant (which looks like cranberry), cacao, atis, and a rain tree that bears bright pink globular flowers, which must yield such a sweet nectar as to draw the sunbirds into their downy tufts. Below them, ringing their trunks, thrive mint, rosemary, forget-me-nots, Madagascar periwinkle (locally known as kumintang), and roses. Eldest Sister gifted us with different varieties of hibiscus, which in her memory (she died in a sea accident) we have positioned in conspicuous places. When one enters the village gate, one sees their red, pink, and yellow flowers and knows that it is the correct address.

May has entered. Usually this is cause for elation, because it seems that, at this time of year, a special sap rises to make the branches put out leaves, flowers and fruit in a singular way – the sprouts having a shinier sheen, a louder color and a rounder globe. Tell me I’m wrong, but that’s how I feel, since May has a meaning for me which time embedded into my childhood, and which as I age grows clearer and dearer.

Many of our trees, made to stand close to each other by the dictates of space, keep on growing as if racing for the sun, and those that could not cope with the contest survive as dwarves, natural bonsais.

This happened to a native guava bush that we implanted near the rain tree. It did not die; neither did it grow.  And also to a mango apple whose seed a nephew buried near the fence, next to a full-grown cacao tree. It remained a dwarf for ten years, and then it suddenly shot up, as though the other trees were sleeping and it took advantage of their slumber.  As of today it has equaled the height of the cacao, and – to my delight – exhibits at least one fruit, full and green with a red blush.

That fruit, all these trees and herbs and flowers, they remind me of love. Not just because I love them enough to have planted and nurtured them (but really someone else does this for me, for a fee, while I write – but in the morning I check on them before I look at the sky).

What I mean by love is that the branch of the apple mango, for instance, could not have yielded the fruit by itself. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says that we should bear fruit, “fruit that will remain.” We cannot bear this fruit by ourselves. We can do it only because God loves us, he in fact has loved us first. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

If I bear fruit, I do not add anything to God, who is perfect.  My fruit is proof of God’s love for me.  As St. Augustine said, “the relation of the branches to the vine is such that they contribute nothing to the vine, but from it derive their own means of life; while that of the vine to the branches is such that it supplies their vital nourishment, and receives nothing from them.”

Oh what lessons my over-crowded garden gives me. And I have not even spoken of the roses yet. Being a devotee of St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Litle Flower,” I make it a point, whenever I ask her to pray to God for me for a special intention, to give me a rose as a sign of her favor. My experience is that she never fails in this regard. Which was why I had a pink rose bush climb up to our balcony to make her work easier. And it seemed that it did not take the bush too long to reach the terrace, and offer to the morning and my desire a bloom or two, at times several blooms together. Why so quick?  In a letter to her sister Celine, St. Therese wrote: “The good God does not need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; one ray from His Heart can, in an instant, make His flower bloom for eternity…”

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TAGS: fruits, garden, God, love, May, spring
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