6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
As a farmer, I spend over an hour a day cleaning my barn, and wheel heavy loads of organic material to a large pile in our barnyard which composts year round. Piling up all that messy stuff that is no longer needed is crucial to the process: it heats up quickly to the point of steaming, and within months, it becomes rich fertilizer, ready to help the fields to grow grass, or the garden to produce vegetables, or the fragrant blooms in the flower beds. It becomes something far greater and more productive than what it was to begin with, thanks to transformation of muck to fruit.
That’s largely what I do in clinic as well.
As clinicians, we help our patients “clean up” the parts of their lives they really don’t need, that they can’t manage any longer, that are causing problems with their health, their relationships and obligations. There isn’t a soul walking this earth who doesn’t struggle in some way with things that take over our lives, whether it is school, work, computer use, food, gambling, porn, you name it. For the chemically dependent, it comes in the form of smoke, a powder, a bottle, a syringe or a pill. There is nothing that has proven more effective than “piling up together” learning what it takes to walk the road to health and healing, “heating up”, so to speak, in an organic process of transformation that is, for lack of any better description, primarily a spiritual treatment process. When a support group becomes a crucible for the “refiner’s fire”, it does its best work melting people down to get rid of the impurities before they can be built back up again, stronger than ever. They become compost, productive, ready to grow others.
This work with a spectrum of individuals of all races, backgrounds and creeds has transformed me.
As Jesus says in Matthew 25: 40–‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
It’s crucial to fertilize those who otherwise may be cut down. Only then can they bear fruit.
May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand. He prepares me with parable.