Today we are discussing chapter 7 in Humble Roots: vine ripened, in reference to tomatoes. Two weeks ago we talked about a different kind of vine in Scouting the Divine: grapes and wine. What struck me comparing these two chapters, is that we need both, the seasonalness of tomatoes which have to be planted and tended every year AND the longtermness of wine where you won’t see the fruit of your labor for years.
I was interested in the history of the age-old question: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?Who knew it was taxes and the Supreme Court in the U.S. that made the distinction “legal.” I loved the Mile Kington’s quote: Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
The overwhelming feeling I had reading this chapter was love and gratitude. Again and again I wrote in my notes something about my parents. I saw this up close! or The profound love of my parents. or I love my parents all the more!!
I did not expect reading this chapter to tie in so strongly to my parents, but reading takes us where it takes us, right? I am privileged to have been raised by wise people, not just knowledgeable. My parent’s wisdom was rooted in God, love, relationships, the bigger picture, and being a conduit of blessing.
This chapter brought several conversations or comments back to mind.
When I was in elementary school I asked my dad how much he earned. (A foreshadowing of my life in China where it was a common question? No, a window into my heart wanting to make sure I would be okay.) His answer? Amy, I am not going to tell you for two reasons. First, I do not want you telling your friends because some will not have as much as we do. Second, all you need to know is we have enough. You do not need to concern yourself.
Flash forward to high school when I was on the debate team. If you are not familiar with debate, there are strict time limits and when your time is up, you have to stop talking no matter how brilliant your point. I would time myself to see how quickly I could speak and still make sense. I do not remember the context, but I recall being in the kitchen and using our new microwave (cutting edge technology I could be around since I was not pregnant) to time myself. My father sighed and said, Amy, you know life is not a debate to win.
Apparently I needed that reminder because it has stuck with me.
Though an engineer, my dad was a very strong extrovert and absolutely loved talking with people. When we were kids, but not super young, my parents would sit in the living room for about 30 minutes after my dad came home from work and talk. Mostly my dad talked and told my mom every (boring) detail about the projects he was working on. Mom jokes that she is the best trained non-engineer there is.
Roll the clock a few more years and I’m in my early 20s. I asked my mom, “Do you really like hearing all of those boring details? Dad goes on and on.” (I was charmingly immature. Let’s go with that, instead of downright rude.)
“No,” she admitted. “But I love your dad and the ‘L’ in ‘love’ stands for listen.” Wisdom, pure and simple.
One more. Move the clock forward a few more years and a family member made a decision that could have lead to a fracturing of our family. My mom said, “We will not lose this person over this decision.” The subsequent years found us exploring the dance between acceptance and approval, as we gladly extended one, but could not give the other. Wisdom can be messy, and confusing, and can lead to misunderstanding.
More than once, people said to me, “The Bible is very clear, how your family is handling this situation is wrong.”
But as Hannah said in this chapter, “Humility teaches us to be less concerned with knowing the answers and more concerned with learning the answers.”
I loved this part, “It’s interesting that while Jesus is concerned that His disciples grow in their understanding, He is also comfortable with them not knowing all things—in part because they aren’t ready for more knowledge yet. Jesus is also confident in the Holy Spirit’s ability to take them through the process.”
If you haven’t read the book, Hannah also stresses we do not neglect the spiritual ABCs—Bible knowledge, prayer, and community. But that we need to “create space for the questions and doubt that lead to growth.”
Tomatoes take time to ripen. Grapes take years to turn into wine. God and his wisdom are knowable and mysterious.
I look forward to our conversations in the comments,
P.S. Did you see I have a new book out to help you connect with supporters? All the News That’s Fit to Tell and How to Tell It
Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:
May 1—Chapter 7 in HR
May 8—Chapters 8 and 9 in HR
May 15—Part 2 (The Harvest) in SD
May 22—Chapters 10 and 11 in HR
May 29—We made it! Two books read in tandem we will review and have a Get to Know