During bedtime prayers tonight, I read our girls the story from Hans Christian Andersen, “The Snail & the Briar” (which apparently most people call “The Snail & the Rose-Tree”). I’d never read this one before, and really loved one section enough that I wanted to share it. The snail is teasing the rose-tree a bit, for never doing anything other than producing roses year after year. The snail is a bit of a cynic, retreating into himself introspectively, always telling himself that the time or moment of his realization of self in some important way is on the horizon.
In one conversation, the snail straight up confronts the rose-tree: “Have you even thought about why you do it? Why keep blossoming, and not do something else?”
To this, the rose tree replies: “No…I blossomed with joy – I just could not help myself. The sun shone so warmly, the air blew so freshly, I drank clear dew and heavy rain, I breathed and lived! Strength seeped into me from the soil and also filled me from above. I felt happiness, for ever new and for ever greater, and that is why I kept on blossoming. That was my life, I could not do otherwise!”
I loved this, especially in the context of parenting my daughters to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). That we would help arrange the conditions of sun, air, water, etc. to the point that when people ask my kids why and how they continue to bear fruit for the Kingdom, they simply say “That’s who I am!”
This is our role, church. May we fill our world with the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control flowing from a life connected to the vine (John 15:5). Not so that we look good, or nice, or “Christian-y”. But so that our children (read HIS children, including all the kids on our block, in our community’s schools, and those feeling overlooked today) have the nurturing conditions necessary for fruit-bearing in beautiful ways.