Every morning I walk the dog with my youngest children before doing the school run. This year the conker trees that line the main walkway in the park have produced a bounty of rich shiny conkers.
Collecting conkers reminds me of fun times as a child, as soon as we saw the opened husks on the floor, it was time to find the mahogany jewels that lay within.
A few times we have been lucky enough to be under the tree just when a squirrel is helping himself to the nuts. We stood underneath, dodging the falling spiky bits of green as the squirrel made light work of the task ahead. We started to notice complete conker shells on the ground that the squirrel had freed from the tree. The squirrel hadn’t attempted to open any of them, so we collected them up to hack into at home.
Every time we cut into the fruits that the squirrel had discarded, we found that the conker inside was bad. Some were still white without its hard glossy shell, others had not formed properly, others were rotten.
As I cleared away the conker debris, I thought about the passage in today’s gospel reading,
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit.” Luke 6:43
It made me think about the conker tree in our park, it was a good tree because it provided countless conkers to the squirrels and to us who had collected them. However some of its fruits were bad, and the squirrel had known this just from the outside.
It made me think, that us as people may see ourselves as good and we have good fruits to share with others. However, we also have some fruits which needed more time on the branch and we have some fruits that had grown with good intentions but have ended up bad.
Jesus calls us to examine ourselves, to ensure that we try our best to produce the best fruits that we can. He knows that we are not perfect, and his endless forgiveness enables us to drop our bad behaviours and to continue growing, so what we give out to the world is rooted in his guidance.
I myself have dropped some bad fruits over the course of my discernment process and I’m sure I will continue to drop more and grow more as I’m formed through my training towards ordination. Like the squirrel, Jesus journeys with us picking off the behaviours and bad fruits we need to leave behind, making room for more good fruits to grow.
I pray that I will be able to produce many more good fruits, that Jesus will guide me so I can grow to be more like Him, that He may be seen through me as I serve His people over these next three years.