Merton once told me to quit trying so hard in prayer. He said: "How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun." A small green apple cannot ripen in one night by tightening all its muscles, squinting its eyes and tightening its jaw in order to find itself the next morning miraculously large, red, ripe, and juicy beside its small green counterparts. Like the birth of a baby or the opening of a rose, the birth of true self takes place in God’s time. We must wait for God, we must be awake; we must trust in his hidden action within us.
This quote from James Finley, a student of Thomas Merton, reminds us to surrender to God in prayer. I believe living life is an act of prayer. I also believe these words are a reminder to me (and maybe to you) to quit trying so hard and just be. I am so guilty of trying to rush the ripening process or even slow it down. I am guilty of thinking I know the plan for when the fruit will be ripe. And, yet I long to just ripen in God's timing. So, even if only for today, let's just be and trust that God knows exactly what He is doing during this ripening process of life.
Oh what beauty and joy, my Lord. Oh what beauty and joy. If we are apples, we need sun to ripen. We need water. We need a root system. But, what is our sun? You are. We need you, your word. We need friends, family, a support system and community to nourish those roots. And then we must wait. We must bask in you, soak it all in and savor as you ripen us. Yes, in the waiting there are sometimes storms. Sometimes we get knocked off the branches. But unlike real-life apples, we are not left to rot for the animals to enjoy an afternoon snack. You are there to pick us back up and place us on that tree of life as we ripen and grow into the persons you are making each of us to be. -Amen
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, unless otherwise indicated.
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