“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” ~Unknown
For the past few days, I have been thinking about my orange tree. Every year, we ignore it completely, and it generously gives us bounteous amounts of sweet oranges. It is so very forgiving of our utter lack of support.
Yet this year, the oranges are bitter; even the squirrels toss them away.
Right now, the tree has oranges on the branches and fresh new blooms all over it, as well. I guess we should pick the oranges to make room for the new, but it hasn’t been on the to-do list yet.
What keeps occurring to me is the faith of this twenty-year-old tree. It doesn’t seem to be in mourning for the bitter oranges. It is filled with optimism about the future—abundant with sweet smelling blossoms.
I believe it isn’t questioning what it did wrong or blaming us for not being better stewards. It is just living, moving forward, and being a tree, preparing for the sweet fruit to come.
What a lesson this is for me. How often I have given all of my focus to my “bitter oranges.” How easy it has been to hold tightly to the times I have felt misunderstood, unsupported, unseen. I’ve dissected every membrane of each orange, looking for reasons, for answers, for justification.
A business relationship that failed, broken apart by different expectations and a lack of honest communication. A family relationship frayed by differing values. A friend who discounts my viewpoint. I have so tightly held to my hurt, my indignation, my shame. I filled my basket with these bitter oranges and carried them with me everywhere I traveled. A heavy load, indeed.
I have not noticed that all around me are new blooms, ready to make new oranges. I could not see the possibilities of new relationships, based on what I had learned from the past.
I could not separate my love for my family from my feelings of being seen as wrong. I didn’t meet the new friends, ready to offer support and fun; I was too busy being wounded—holding my bitter oranges. I have not noticed that there are so many more new blooms than there is bitter fruit.
The bitter oranges are history, and who really cares? The sweet white soft buds of beginnings are the future and that is what I choose to care about. Their soft perfumed fragrance calls to me and lifts my spirit, reminding me of delicious things still to come.
I’m so glad I have such a sage living in my back yard, ready to teach. I just need to be quiet and listen. And maybe honor it by removing the bitter oranges!
Photo by Ronnie Mcdonald