There was once a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went looking for figs on it but found none. So he said to his gardener, ‘Look for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil? But the gardener answered, ‘Leave it alone, sir, just one more year. I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down.’
– Luke 13:6-9
I have a plain black journal which I cart around for all things spiritual. It is a book riddled with inspirational sayings from homilies, scripture, from the girls in my prayer group, and messages I hear from prayer. I doubt the journal could be useful to anyone aside from me as it’s got thought-segments scattered randomly and the same phrases scribbled repeatedly throughout. Months ago, Father Ignacio stated, God is not like Amazon Prime. We have to wait, in one of his homilies. It is a phrase which has taken up considerable real estate these past few weeks.
As is usual when I need to work on something, signs appear from all sorts of corners with the same message. For the last couple weeks, I have had several reminders on perspective, of thinking about whose lens I am looking through, of being able to see my life as Jesus sees it, through His vision, and of rewriting the story I tell myself. Consistently at church, I hear the message to ask God the way and He will use you. I have been increasingly frustrated as I’ve been asking for guidance for months and (telling myself) I hear nothing. I sat for an hour this week and had an internal fight with God. Why are you not speaking to me?, I silently yelled. What do you want me to do? And then the quietest, softest answer: Have patience. Trust in me. My immediate reaction was to act as if I hadn’t heard anything. Instead, I responded, but WHAT do you want me to DO!? Trusting and being patient sounds a lot like sitting around doing nothing when all I want is for my fig tree to be bearing figs.
I then came home and complained to William about the experience, of asking for guidance daily and hearing nothing, of being frustrated because He refuses to speak to me. William’s response was, perhaps you’re not looking at the situation the right way. Perhaps when you think nothing is happening, it is because His answer is not what YOU THINK it should be.
I can be incredibly stubborn. I ask for guidance but I only want to hear an affirmation that what I want is what I should want–is what I should be working on and is going to happen according to my schedule. I want clear, easily discernable boxes to check in a linear pattern marking the way forward. I want to know the daily labor will produce the desired results. I find it extremely difficult to entertain the possibility that He is answering and doing something in my life when it doesn’t look exactly like what I expect it to.
I look to my journal. His message to trust and have patience is written clearly, week after week, right next to the reminders about Amazon Prime. When I turn the pages back and see the same words time and again, I realize He’s been there responding all along. It is time to stop being frustrated and trust. It is time to rewrite the story I tell myself. I need to stop looking at my life as an unbearing fig tree. I need to spend less mental energy tearing it down and more of it in adding fertilizer.
God is not like Amazon Prime. We have to wait.
Moroccan Grain Salad with Pomegranates + Hazelnuts, adapted from Green Kitchen Travels
I pulled the last two eggplants from their stems the other morning. It was a beautiful morning to be in the sunshine, to pull the last of the season’s purple jewels from their life cord, to traipse around in my mud boots after months of heat and dry ground. It poured rain the day before and since and the ground has been soft. Most of the summer vegetables are finally done. This salad is a snapshot of the present season, a mix of old and new. Combined with those last two eggplants, roasted sweet onions and handfuls of parsley and mint, there are this season’s hazelnuts and the seeds of a pomegranate tossed in. I made this salad for the first time over the Labor Day holiday for our family reunion. That first version was slightly different with a couple zucchini sliced into rounds and roasted. It was a big hit and I promised to share the recipe. Now that summer is well and truly over, I’ve thought about how to carry this salad’s flavors into the autumn and holiday season as it would do nicely as a side during a celebration meal. I’m picking up a load of winter squash this weekend and I imagine some roasted delicata or kabocha squash would make for an even tastier mixture paired with the cinnamon-infused grains, herbs, pomegranates and hazelnuts.
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
1 medium onion
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup equal parts quinoa and millet (or all of either one)
2 cups water
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
a handful of mint leaves
a handful of parsley
1/4 cup raisins
1 pomegranate, deseeded
1/2 cup toasted and coursely chopped hazelnuts
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop the eggplants and onion into small pieces. Place them on a large baking pan and drizzle with a small dose of oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven until soft and slightly burned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and place in a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil and garlic and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa and millet. Place the grains in a small saucepan and add the measured water, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat immediately, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed.
- To assemble the salad, place the cooked grains in the bowl with the roasted vegetables. Add the lemon juice, herbs, raisins, pomegranate seeds, and chopped hazelnuts. Give everything a good stir to evenly mix. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly.