My friend Clara was passing out some beautiful oranges a couple days ago, but I couldn’t get my hands on one. I interrupted her asking, “Hey where’s mine?” But, they were all gone. That’s when I heard her say something about a tree that had lost all its fruit during the hurricane. Her friends were very sad when their brothers discovered the trees had lost their fruit.

This brought to mind something I’d mentioned before, about how all our stripped trees around here literally burst new life just days after the storm. Still today, in January, when all the leaves should be on the ground, they have sprigs of fresh young leaves. So I walked behind my church where I knew there was a grapefruit and orange tree to see if there was ripe fruit on them. Yes, there were fresh fruit. Clara shared this account of her “miracle fruit:”

“Hurricane Michael was damaging enough to oak trees and houses, so imagine what the 155 mph winds could do to delicate fruit trees. About a week after the storm, because we could not communicate with our family in Wewahitchka, we determined the roads were clear enough for us to try the drive.

When we arrived at my sister-in-law’s brothers, we sat talking about damage to all of the families’ homes. Then the question came up, ‘What about the fruit trees?’ Mary’s brother had two orange trees, a grapefruit tree, a Meyer lemon tree and a kumquat tree. Sadly, not only were the trees heavily damaged but it appeared that the budding fruit had been blown off the trees and was all over the ground. Mary’s brother indicated that he was going to leave them alone, hoping that perhaps some of them would recover next summer. Surprisingly, when we went to visit Christmas Eve, one of the orange and lemon trees were both bearing ripe fruit. ... So we named them our ‘miracle fruit.’ ”

To me, these type of phenomena are Glory Sightings on many fronts.

First they are glorious reminders that not only us humans are built to survive. Not only animals will run for safety or grow more muscle when our body has learned it needs to be stronger, or grow new neurons when we suffer brain damage. It seems all living things have the same innate instinct. Who would have thought our trees, though some broken or even fallen, would spark new leaves, skipping another bud, in late fall instead of the spring? And that some would even, in a sense, try again to bear fruit.

Second, these phenomena are Glory Sightings to me because of the message they send to and for us. When we feel that all is lost, that hope is vain, that the “crop” is lost; it returns, as if by magic, telling us, “God’s got us.” My fig tree got ripped to shreds and pulled from most of its roots, but I can tell it’s still “trying” to get some fruit on its branches.

This brings to mind my favorite passage written by an ancient prophet, Habakkuk:

Though the fig tree should not blossom

And there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail

And the fields produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold

And there be no cattle in the stalls

Yet I will exult in the LORD,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

The Lord GOD is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,

And makes me walk on my high places.

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments. (3:17-19 NASB)

 

When you catch a Glory Sighting, let me bring it into the light by sharing it with this column via jack@jackstanley.org, Facebook at ParkerPastor or on the web at mypumc.org. The Rev. Jack Stanley serves as pastor of Parker United Methodist Church.