The pomegranates I brought to the kids’ class I teach on Wednesday evenings were a fascination all evening long.
The kids had never seen this fruit, and they wanted to touch and handle the pomegranates. They kept asking me about “those things” during the entire lesson.
I had also brought grapes, but they weren’t interested in grapes.
Because I made them wait until the end of the story, they were especially intrigued by this new (to them) fruit.
You know the story about the spies who went into Jericho and came back with tales of the fruit inside that walled city of Jericho. They brought back pomegranates and grapes, among other things.
After the story, we sliced the pomegranates. I allowed the kids to enjoy this fruit. They had so much fun!
Surprising to me, the part they liked the best was the seeds.
“You don’t eat the seed!” an adult corrected me after class.
“Oh, but we do,” I countered. “There’s not a thing wrong with the seed, and who cares if nobody else eats them? If they like the seed and want to enjoy it, why shouldn’t they?”
The kids went home with memories of pomegranates. They were completely unaware that some people don’t eat the seeds.
They went home with pomegranate stains on their clothes and fingers, as well as instructions on how to get their clothes clean. (Boiling hot water poured over the stain takes out fruit stains, in case you didn’t know.)
I think from here on out when the kids hear about or see pomegranates, they will remember their first experience with this fruit.
The memory of getting to try something new without restrictions, of tasting something different, and experiencing a texture they’d never had before will stay with them.
I think they will also remember how waiting to sample the fruit made it even sweeter.
For them, there was no guilt in touching, tasting, and sampling. That’s because I gave them free reign to do whatever they wanted with the fruit as long as they treated it with respect and with care.
The garden of fidelity
Marriage (including sex) was God’s idea. ‘Strange how often society would have us believe otherwise! God said marriage is honorable among all, and the bed (garden) is undefiled.
When there is a garden that belongs to you and you alone, there is no reason to scour other gardens. When all the fruit we desire is ours, there is no reason to sample fruits from forbidden places or to peek over the fence into territory that is not ours to claim. Why should I care about what happens in someone else’s garden when I have my own to enjoy?
Yet there’s something about forbidden fruit that draws us, daring us to taste and touch what is not ours to have. The temptation is as old as the garden itself, for the first family experienced this in the Eden garden that had been given to them by God Himself.
The wrong fruit
All the fruits, trees, plants, and flowers were theirs to enjoy but one.
All of them – but one.
And that was the one Eve thought she had to sample.
With a bounty such as God only can create, He filled the garden with good things – and plentiful things – for them to enjoy!
Variety and spice and color.
Fragrance and texture and flavor.
All of it was theirs – but one.
Yet that was the one they wanted.
Did they want it because it wasn’t theirs to have because they weren’t satisfied with what God had provided, or because they wanted to try something different?
Or was it really the fault of the serpent who caused Eve to question the goodness of God in giving them an entire paradise full of fragrance, taste, and texture?
I find myself wondering: if this tree had been permitted, how much would they really have desired this particular one? How many other trees had they not yet tasted?!
Wanting what isn’t mine to have
I’m just like Eve. We are all like Eve (or her Adam).
Which of us at some point has wished for the toy that another child has, for the car that somebody else gets to drive, for the promotion that slipped us by, for the boyfriend a friend has, for parents that belong to other kids, or for a spouse that is as kind as someone else’s?
That is why there are sexual sins and sexual crimes today.
We want what is not ours to have.
We think we have a right to be happy.
We think we deserve to get what we want.
We think of ourselves instead of others.
We shudder in horror (and rightly so) at the things people do and the places people go. We decry the downfall of our society and the pain that is ravaging families because of unfaithfulness and diseases. We surely ought to shudder and we ought to denounce loudly!
We ought to also, I think, commend those who believe in and practice the sweetness of Fidelity.
There are those who choose to enjoy the garden that is theirs and refuse to wander into gardens that are not theirs to harvest. There are those who wait to open their garden gate until their marriage vows have been said. They know how sweet fidelity is because they live it. Every day.
Life is short. Faithful folks make fidelity sweet.
Can there be anything sweeter than to walk into your own garden and know that no one else has ever been there?
To touch and savor the fruit of the vine that no one else has ever touched? To know that no one else has ever seen or handled what is behind the gate of your garden?
There are still folks who save themselves for marriage. There are still people who are able to give their virginity to their spouse on their wedding night.
In a world of lust and pornography, of infidelity and scandal, can anything be sweeter than to know your spouse has been faithful to you alone, and to know that you have kept your vows as well?
It still happens.
There is still fidelity in the world. The world over, there are couples who keep their vows.
For better, for worse.
For richer, for poorer.
In sickness and in health.
For thirty, and forty, and fifty years.
For sixty and seventy years.
There are men and women who keep faithful to their vows.
It still happens.
Pomegranates and grapes. The Garden of Fidelity is ripe with sweet, fragrant, delicate fruit. No matter how many years the marriage, the fruit keeps ripening and new shoots keep sprouting as lovers learn more about each other and keep on giving to each other.
They keep on giving in bad times as well as in the good times. They keep being faithful in sickness and loss of health. They keep taking care of each other as long as they can.
They can choose to eat the seed or just the fruit. It doesn’t matter because it’s their garden, and nobody else has a right to know.
Enjoy the nectar and the seeds. Enjoy the pulp and the juice. Enjoy it because it is yours as husband and wife.
Life is short. Fidelity is rich. And oh, is it ever sweet!