Christmas is an oddly frenetic time. Sometimes I am amazed that the most basic of Christmas traditions in America can be accomplished by anyone. (Seriously, Christmas trees are a lot of work!) And yet the refrains of the season highlight our communal heart's longing for LOVE, JOY, and PEACE. The fruit of the Spirit.
...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-25
Fruit is not produced on a tree by sheer force of will. We must make the conditions right and tend to the soil. Fruit trees need to be planted in the right climate, and then they need sunlight, water, healthy soil, and protection from damage. They also need pruning.
I really want peace, love, and joy this year. I can't make that happen for the whole world, but I am learning how to make the conditions right in my own heart. Here are some of the ways that I aim to cultivate a healthy "Spirit fruit tree" this Christmas season:
Peace, love, and joy are God's fruit, not my own. When I create these spaces and rhythms for abiding in God, His fruit has an opportunity to grow.
You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:3-5
I encourage you to give yourself time and space to observe the health of your fruit tree during this Christmas season. Notice which Christmas activities are facilitating openness to God's Spirit, creating healthy conditions for fruit production, and which activities are blocking you from opportunities to abide in God's Spirit. When we pay attention to God's presence, He will produce His fruit: love, joy, and peace.
I am Irene Kraegel. I work as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based college campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!