Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fig tree parable curse revealed while mowing around fig trees

After over 10 inches of rain during mid-August, with nearly six acres to mow, the yard near’bout got away from me, what with all the weddings we had going on.

Then another 10 inches was forecast from Hurricane Gustav, and I had to turn right around and remow what I had just finished mowing high, because the mower couldn’t strap it on any lower. Had to hustle to get that done before Labor Day, when Gustav – which means “Staff of God” – arrived in the Delta.

After the Great Ice Storm of ’94, our fig trees were gone; completely broken down. I figured I could come back and clean that up later, since it was in the back yard and we had beaucoup trees down elsewhere that were more critical to remove.

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But by the time I got around to cleaning up fig debris, those suckers had literally been reborn from the suckers, so I just pulled the broke-off parts to the burn pile.

We’ve had bumper crops of figs ever since, and Betsy makes fig preserves, plus strawberry fig preserves, and orange marmalade fig preserves. Except for this summer, when we were in Nawth Caihlinuh getting son Adam married off just perzackly when the figs were coming off.  

Yet it had rained enough that those fig trees put out a second crop, though smaller than the first, but just as tasty. As I mowed by the fig trees, I reached out and pulled off a few ripe ones, eating them as I mowed toward the road.

It is geometrically possible to mow near’bout the whole six acres planning each pass within arm’s reach of the fig trees! Took me a while to figure that out, but I ate figs all afternoon, and they are absolutely delicious. And good for me.

Ofttimes during a yard mowing, great and wonderful things will be revealed unto me. I have written poems, songs, columns, and book chapters while mowing, especially in the pasture out by the Swimming Hole.

As I was eating figs while mowing, I pondered again the Parable of the Fig Tree, one of the Parables I’ve never really figured out. That day, it was revealed unto me.

Undoubtedly, Jesus didn’t just get mad at the Cursed Fig Tree; I mean, it says in the Good Book that He was tempted just like we are, but He never sinned. Mark even makes the point that it wasn’t yet time for the figs, though Matthew skipped that fact in his rendition of the Parable. So, what’s the real story?

I think I know, and will try to reveal it unto you in something less than the King James language, which everyone knows Jesus spoke in, red-lettered as well.

Joseph called the boy Jesus unto him one Saturday morning and said, “Son, me and Zebedee are goin’ fishin’ today; Ole Man Jonah says the white perch are bitin’ in the backwater pools of the Jordan. So, you got to mow the yard today.”

Jesus probably replied like unto, “But Daddy, me and Cuddin John were gonna play Jews ‘n Gentiles today, with those wooden swords and spears you made all of us. Bap even said I can be captain of the Gentile team!”

To which Joseph answered, “Son, you know how yo’momma is when she gets her mouth set for white perch. She’s already got the grease in the kettle, and I got pine knots laid under it, so as to heat it up quick when we get back this evenin’. Tell you what, get Bap to come he’p you mow, then y’all can play in that dippin’ pool I made for him. Heck, we’ll invite his folks for supper; I ain’t seen Zach an’ Liz in a coon’s age! Don’t ‘Aw, Daddy,’ me, now! You finish the mowin’ first!”

So, young Jesus got out the mower and commenced to working in the yard, and it was a hot day (‘course, that’s dry heat, over there). He made a loop around the fig tree in the back yard, and while in the shade the thought occurred: “Lordee, I’ll just snag a fig off’n the tree on every loop, and not get thirsty or wore out!”

But the fig tree didn’t have any figs on it!

Yet our Lord didn’t get mad. He just kept on mowing, but He didn’t forget.

Then 25 years later, in His final week as a man, He strolled by that same doggone tree, had a hankering for a fig, and, Lo! There was nary a fig on it. So He zapped it, for His Time had now come! You must bear fruit, y’all hear?

Out here at Brownspur, our fig trees are doing fine. They sure ain’t curst!