A poem for the first Sunday of Advent

The short parable about the fig tree in Sunday’s Gospel lesson (Luke 21:25-36) grabbed my attention. I started reading about figs and learned some fascinating stuff, which, though far removed from the parable Jesus tells, provides an interesting metaphor for beginnings and endings. I was thinking, too, about the apocalyptic images that show up in the Gospel the  first week of Advent — distress among nations, people fainting from fear — frightening stuff. But these dark signs point toward something hopeful: the coming of the kingdom of God. Sometimes we have to look deeper into the ruin of things to see the possibility of new beginnings.

On Transformation (With Figs)

by Kathryn Smith


Wasps stream from the fig in an endless

ribbon. The insects hatched in the fruit’s hidden

garden, hundreds of tiny flowers lining the fig’s


inner wall. It’s a realm accessible through one

small passageway, wasp-sized,  and only

the wasp knows it. Once they’ve emerged,


they can’t turn back. Each wasp will find

another fruit to enter, a place to lay her eggs.

She knows which tree is hers, each species


of wasp drawn, intrinsically, to its own species of tree.

A symbiosis 80 million years in the making

looks like infestation, the fruit a ruin,


the tree past hope. But it’s how things survive.

It’s how the wasp perpetuates her species. It’s how

she pollinates each tiny fig flower, spreading


the microscopic code the fruit needs to set seed,

the tree’s next incarnation, and how the fig, once the wasps

depart, swells and ripens into sweet food for something else.


Kathryn Smith is a member of Salem Congregation. She’s a poet, a gardener, a chicken-keeper, and an observer of the world around her. Most people call her Kat.


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