(Yes, you read that right…Fruits and the Desert. Not to be confused with fruits and dessert).

Recently, our community has walked with The Wild Goose series by Fr Dave Pivonka. This series beautifully explores who the Holy Spirit is and His role in our life. At one point, I found myself asking “Why have I never known all this about the Holy Spirit before?” I was struck.

Let me start by asking the question Fr. Dave asked; “What kind of fruit does your life produce?” What comes to mind for you? Before watching the videos, I believed that the fruit I was to produce was through my works. I thought of John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” I understood fruit as connecting others to the vine through evangelization. Quite honestly, I usually see my branch as pretty barren. To my utter surprise, according to Fr Dave, the fruits being spoken of are the fruits of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, it says “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” So the question then changes to “Does my life produce love, joy, peace, etc?”

As I grew up, I always heard about the fruits of the Spirit but never understood the meaning behind the scripture. The fruits of the Spirit were only a cute song that you learned as a child (i.e. “The fruit of the spirit is not a coconut”). I came to understand the gifts of the Holy Spirit through learning about charisms (special gifts from God), but I never thought back on the fruits of the Spirit being the feelings I felt. For instance, when I professed my First Promises nearly three years ago, I felt a deep peace inside of me which told me I was where I was supposed to be. I did not equate that as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. This teaching rocked my spirit.

The Lord has shown me that my branch is very fruitful, not because of what I do, but what the Spirit is able to accomplish in me. Fruit is not only leading people to a relationship with God, but God’s living action within my heart as He brings peace, love, joy and so much more…

Fr. Dave also reflected on the deserts in our lives. It can be a place of desolation and aloneness, but he also taught that it can be a fruitful place. How is this possible?

I have found at times the pandemic has been a bit of a desert for me, especially times of self-isolation. Through Fr Dave’s talk, maybe what I thought was isolation and solitary confinement is actually times of me wandering through a desert. It was said that it is in our time of loneliness that we are invited to call on the Lord to fill us up. In Hosea 2:14, it is written “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

It may seem like we spend a lot of time in the desert. (I feel like I am there extensively these days.) The desert might feel barren, but the hidden fruit is the intimacy with the Lord as he speaks tenderly to the deserted places of the heart. He meets us there, and where we are connected with Him, there is fruit. As our surrender meets His mercy, He turns deserts into rivers, ashes into beauty. The Holy Spirit changes my felt experience within, no matter the circumstances. So what fruits are you seeking in your life? Are you willing to give God permission to meet you in the desert and make you fruitful?

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