Miracles and Signs of Hope

I moved to Houston when I was barely 14 to a little community called Cambridge Village. There was a lot going on in the late 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing and Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr. came to our city. It was a time of hope mingled with frustrations, but I had a good family, was bright and intelligent (words used to describe me) and I was curious and involved on many fronts, including politically and socially. But, this story is not about that.

Earlier this week I rode the train to Chicago. I went to Wisconsin to visit with my friend and her family for a couple of days, including a visit to a women's prison where my friend has volunteered for a while. This story is not about them either. Nor is the story about my wonderful aunt who will be 96-years young this coming May, whose wisdom fueled my calling after many months of disappointments and frustrations. This story comes from my time riding back, filled to the brim with hope again and sharing a compartment with a group of young people. I say young because they were all 30 and under. I heard them talking (yes, I was eavesdropping) and something one of them said, called me to enter into their conversation. It was remarkable. Christopher, Iris and Tiffany. They were wonderful and this interaction reminded me of how blessed I was as a child and then a young adult to have had adults in my life who listened and interacted with me. I was thinking this when the young man, Chris, who had earlier with Iris, gone to find me chocolate, offered me some of his Fig Newtons. Remember them? I loved them as a child. Anyway, it was the Fig Newtons that made me remember the story of miracles and hope that comes in small ways every day of our  lives--if we only pay attention.

The Fig Tree

When I moved to Houston, one of the first people I met was Mr. Overstreet who lived across the street from our house. Mr. Overstreet worked somewhere, but where I often saw him was out in his yard. And his prize possession in the yard was a fig tree. I had never eaten a fig. I loved Fig Newtons, but didn't even know what a fig looked like. My grandfather had peach trees. I loved them, too, but it was Mr. Overstreet who introduced me to figs, sweet purply, brown figs. My first taste? Nirvana.

Over the years, I would pick from that tree. Mr. Overstreet didn't mind. And then one day, the tree stopped bearing fruit. It looked healthy. In fact, Mr. Overstreet refused to cut down the tree although his wife insisted over and over again. He just wouldn't and I missed the fruit. Then I was a grown woman, living elsewhere, raising children. The tree stood. There was no more fruit.

I was living in Washington, DC, missing home, and one night I had this dream. I was out in the front yard and Mr. Overstreet was again pruning the tree. It was ripe with fruit, bursting it seemed, bigger than I had ever seen before. I ran over to him and asked him what happened. He smiled and told me it was time for it to bloom again and handed me one of the fruit. I bit into the fig and the juice ran down my chin, it was so ripe and full. Then I awoke.

For some reason I needed to call my Mom so I did and started right in with this crazy, wonderful dream. She listened patiently and then told me that she had just learned that Mr. Overstreet had died the night before. I was shaken. Obviously. But, I thought that it was wonderful that Mr. Overstreet had visited me in my dreams--wondering a little bit about why and what, if anything, the dream meant.

The tree bloomed again that summer. It was a miracle folks said, but all I could reply was that it was foretold. Mr. Overstreet had already told me that it was time for it to bloom again.

I shared this story with Chris after he shared his cookies with me and it reminded me that I haven't written anything significant in a while. So, like the fig tree, I've been in my winter hibernation of the mind. Don't get me wrong, I haven't stopped working, but I had stopped writing. Writing these kinds of stories--harvesting this kind of fruit that grows in my mind daily. So, I write this story to thank three people on a train, to bear the fruit that God gives me. It is time, after all. Enjoy the fruit.



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