Before kids, Alex and I once went to San Antonio for our wedding anniversary. Coincidentally, it was the same weekend that a Comicon was happening so the people watching was excellent. On our last day, we decided to go off the beaten path and walk away from all the touristy parts of the River Walk. We took the path that no one else traveled and fairly quickly figured out why no one travels on that particular portion of the River Walk.
Because the only thing that we found was heat.
The hot central Texas sun beat down on our heads, reflecting off the water and the concrete. There were no tourist shops where we could buy $8 bottle of water. There was nothing. It was as if we had discovered a gateway to another dimension, one where everyone had died and we were the only people left, crawling along the abandoned River Walk.
Finally, like a mirage in the distance, we squinted and through the waves of heat saw a small farmers market. We directed our slow plodding steps towards the tables stacked with brightly colored fruit, finally making it to the closest table which happened to be selling peaches so we bought a half dozen.
Now, obviously, I had eaten peaches before but, this? When I bit into this Texas peach, I felt almost like I was a baby that was discovering food for the first time. This tender, juicy peach made me question whether or not the wooden, dry peaches I’d had before could even qualify as fruit.
We sat under a tree and ate peaches like we had never eaten before.
Every once and a while, we talk about those peaches. They changed peaches for us. Now, every peach that I eat has to measure up to those peaches, the ones that changed our peach game.
I went to the Pride Parade again this year with a few people from my church. I got there early to scope out the location. I walked it twice and didn’t see any of the protestors that we saw last year.
So we just posted up in a spot that had good foot traffic and we hugged people.
Until we heard the crackle of a bullhorn followed by “Sinners, repent!” Our group swiftly moved to stand in front of the lone protestor (just like we did last year).
I can’t tell you how many people I hugged today. It was probably in the 200 person range. My friends next to me were holding “Free Mom Hugs” and “Free Dad Hugs”. I lost count of how many exclaimed, “Oh! My dad hates me! I need a dad hug!” I had so many approach with tears in their eyes in response to hearing a message of love from someone associated with church.
It was good fruit.
Not like the wizened, dried up plum of theology that told me that I needed to love the sinner and hate the sin. It wasn’t the unintentionally homemade raisins of self-righteousness or the blackened, soft banana of legalism. It wasn’t the OMG-I-just-bought-these-$4-strawberries-and-there’s-f’in-mold-on-them certainty that made me think I could dictate other people’s lived experiences without ever listening to them.
No, this was delicious, juicy, drip-down-your-chin good fruit.
This is the fruit of peacemaking.
The fruit of healing.
The fruit of love.
This is the fruit that has ruined all other fruit for me. I can’t go back to woody, flavorless fruit. Seeing people, loving them, speaking life into them, healing wounds that the church has inflicted.
This is good, good fruit.
And you know what? I realize that this metaphor is slightly (or rather wildly) sexual in nature but I don’t care. I don’t care because sex is just one side of a many-sided prism of intimacy.
And standing in a sweaty embrace with a stranger, the blaring condemnation from a bullhorn ringing in our ears, whispering to one another assurances that God loves us, is the most intimate thing I’ve done in a while.
This is good fruit.