I spied a fig tree, hardy and resilient between a cyclone fence and a concrete curb, in the parking lot of one of Dallas’ oldest churches. The tenacious little tree made me think immediately of the LORD God—I love the way that plants and all things garden connect me back to God’s ways and wisdom.
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree
Matthew 24:32, Mark 13:28 NIV
Fig points us to God’s provision in many ways, and his call to persevere in bitter situations until His sweetness prevails.
As fig [crops] grow, they are bitter, then sweet, just as our gardens begin barren and then mature beautifully; our muscles to work them are sore at first, then strengthened; our garden club acquaintances seem awkward, growing to familiarity, then finally sweetening to friendship and interdependence. Bitter at first; then sweet.
—from “Restoring Bitter to Sweet,” God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 15
Insight for this passage came through the writing of renowned chef David Tanis, teaching on the difference in fig crops from one end of the season to the other.
Fresh figs are available for only a few weeks in the summer. The first figs are in June, but June figs usually pale in comparison to the late-summer crop, which benefits from warm August days…you wait all year for the best figs to arrive. The reward is heavy, juicy fruit with oozing centers—sweet figs to swoon for.
—David Tanis, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, 2008
What I find marvelous is that in response to this insight—seeing two “crops,” bitter troubles, followed by sweet restoration— I can plant a fig tree! As if to express the hope of this truth being planted in me, becoming as material in my attitude as the tree itself.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
Psalm 71:20 NIV
Even more, it seems God’s Word nearly commands a fig tree in my yard, that each of our particular fruitful works indicates the greater work of national security.
During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree.
1 Kings 4:25 NIV
With this inspiration, we brought Fig to the Plant Guide this week, for you to find ways to add this sweet treat to your garden and table. No fretting if you live in a colder climate! One of my favorite fig aficionados, fellow garden writer Steven Biggs, lives and tends and keeps figs in Toronto, Canada.
“You can succeed in growing figs: they’re vigorous and forgiving plants.”
—Steven Biggs, Grow Figs Where You Think You Can’t, 2012
©2015 Shelley S. Cramm A fig tree perseveres in the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church parking lot in Dallas, a congregation celebrating 140 years of coming together.
©2015 Shelley S. Cramm Fig tree detail, finding sweet fruits in uncommon places