The Mango Cycle of Life

there is an orange mango
hanging in the sun
soaking in the morning warmth
ripening silently
hanging on
its long stem firmly attached
to a slender branch
sucking in sustenance
growing gradually rounder
full of succulent juice
vitamins A and C
swaying slightly
as a breeze comes through
to caress the smooth skin
and whisk off dust
breath of heaven 
and sap of life
and healing light
I hang here too
knowing soon
my turn will come
to fall, matured
and ripened,

fruit that tells a story
of life sustained
by love and grace
attachment to the Source
hanging where I'm placed
living out my little span
being fruit
falling to the soil
to die, to let my seed
be buried whole
to grow into a leafy tree
with crowds of limbs
and flowers bursting
into fiery clusters
that drip down
becoming stems
with balls of green
forming on their ends
and it begins again
but now it's hundreds
of green newborn fruit
sipping the sap
the sun and the breeze
    and on it goes . . .

Mangoes are such a blessing! Watching the mango trees grow heavy with fruit every year, fruit that I longed for, was one of the riches of living where I did in northern Côte d’Ivoire. The family ate the fresh fruit with delight. I always had plans to make mango pie, ice cream, mango sauce, mango butter, and freeze whatever would fit in the freezer. Still, many fell to the ground and rotted. But how could a new tree be produced unless that happened?

The Scriptures are full of the imagery of producing fruit. The one we are most familiar with is that of the vine, of how we are to be like branches that cling to the vine and thus are nourished by the sap and can produce fruit. It is vital to understand that one. It is true of mango trees as well: if a branch loses its hold and is whipped off the tree, it dies. There is no fruit.

But I am intrigued by the way this image of “fruit” is also used to describe a tree:

The fruit of the righteous is like a tree producing life, and the one who wins souls is wise. (Prov 11.30)

Here I can picture a tree growing from a seed, and then, when it produces its fruit, this gives life to others! That fruit will nourish many, and some will fall on good soil and become yet other fruit-bearing trees. And the fruit that gives life involves right actions (what the “righteous” do) that encourage others and promote justice, and that invite people to enter that same way of living.

Jesus talked about how it matters whether the soil on which seed lands is receptive or not. When the Good News is received with conviction that lasts, the result is a healthy plant that also bears fruit.

But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance. (Luke 8:15)

In these verses it is clear that the fruit of that seed comes from living out the truth, the Word, in such a way that others are impacted. Clinging to the Word “with an honest and good heart” means learning it, absorbing it and letting it direct one’s actions – definitely not just claiming the title “believer” or “Christian”. It requires “steadfast endurance.”

Then in John 15 Jesus makes it clear that living out that truth hangs on whether mutual affection is a reality in the community. In fact, the command to love one another is underlined as the obedient action that allows the disciple to remain in God’s love. “Remaining” is explained by that metaphor of staying attached to the vine, which is where the disciple receives the strength and capacity to actually love others in this fundamental way, absorbing instruction that leads to living for others the way that Jesus did. I would encourage you to truly meditate on the entire chapter; here I will just highlight this emphasis on mutual loving. It has really clarified things for me:

My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples. 9 “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. . . .12 My commandment is this– to love one another just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this– that one lays down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. . . 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. 17 This I command you– to love one another. (Jn. 15:8 NET)

There it is! And I do believe we miss applying this way too often in our communities. What is the world noticing about Christians in the U.S. these days, for example? Is it not our divisions, our quarrels, and our public maligning of those who differ from us in their political position, social class, race or immigrant status? Do we listen lovingly to those who are experiencing more challenges or suffering than we are?

Showing love is always a challenge, especially when it requires finding ways to show it to those who are mistreating us or misunderstanding us. I like the example that Paul gives in the following verses, where he asks for grace for those who have opposed him in the Family of Christ:

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. (2 Tim. 4:16 NIV)

This past year in Côte d’Ivoire the dry season lasted too long, so that the “mango rains” the come before the rainy season did not come until a few months too late. The mango harvest was truly disappointing. It made me realize how important it is that the nourishment of the sap, the life-giving liquid in the tree, can flow as it should and therefore produce fruit. If we are going through spiritual drought, not getting the nourishment we need, it is no wonder that we find it so difficult to love as Jesus commands us to love. It is up to each of us to analyze where we get our nourishment, and whether it is really from him or from the world. Let’s figure out how we can love one another!

Published by Linnea Boese

After spending most of my life in Africa, as the child of missionaries then in missions with my husband, I am now retired and free to use my time to write! I am working on publishing poetry and on writing an autobiography. There have been many adventures, challenges and wonderful blessings along the way -- lots to share!

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