There is much to be said for karma, the sowing & reaping principle, or the /garbage in = garbage out\ programming of our minds. Yet, I don’t want to focus on the negative aspect here. All I will say is that “you are what you eat” is a cliché for a reason. It’s true. The make-up of yourself becomes the product of what you put into yourself.
Therefore, let us look to put good stuff in. Let us look to grow and generate good produce in our lives. But what is the good stuff? I want to explore the First Fruits of Freedom as nine intentional attitudes and graces. I call them fruits because these are natural, nourishing portions that are also pleasant and sweet to consume.
- Love: Begin with love, always. Love is the filter that illuminates how we see ourselves and all others around us. Only with Love will we have the grace to accept and freely forgive. Everyone does wrong. Everyone needs forgiveness, especially ourselves. Love yourself. Forgive yourself.
- Joy: Joy is the powerhouse, the electricity that runs through our soul and lights up the good in the world around us. It’s like the generator that keeps the lights on. When the lights go out, when we lose joy, then all we see is darkness and every evil and unsatisfactory thing overwhelms our vision. So light up your little space in the world with purposed joyfulness.
- Peace: The air of Peace in our atmosphere is the most conducive to breathing for our souls. To generate Peace you must chose to pursue peace. Even if it means turning away from proving you are right, turning away from getting what you deserve, and ignoring what you think is fair and just for yourself. This is not to say that you should just let yourself be taken advantage of. This is to say that if your main focus is to create an air of Peace instead of contention, then when the contending storms hit, you will have peace in your breath (like an oxygen mask), even in the middle of a raging storm.
- Patience: Wait. Rest. Let the fire of Patience slowly create warmth and nourishment and power, or else you may end up burning in chaos. Take the time to deliberately make the choices you want to make. Unless you are in the middle of a war, then there is very little reason to act immediately. If you feel rushed or pressured, like things are getting out of control, then temper the flames. Take a moment to breathe, seek council, and consider your options. Of course, not being prepared dissipates peace. So apply patience to preparation and you will have your success.
- Kindness: Water your life with kindness. Use balance and wisdom to know how much is too much, or how little is not enough. Kindness brings refreshing healing. When you feel parched and dried up, then offer a kindness to either yourself or to someone else. Passing on kindness will regenerate your own kindness. Multiplication works. Don’t just add a little kindness to your own attitude, multiply it by applying kindness to others around you. The more you add, the more you apply, the more it multiplies; and kindness will return in kind to you.
- Goodness: In the early agricultural societies, the success of a family was based upon how much cattle they had. This isn’t the case much now, but the imagery still applies. If you have much Goodness in your daily practice, that is, selfless ethics and generous morals, then you will be known by your good works with good success. Goodness has many different forms, just like all the fauna (animals) in the world. Each good intention or deed that you promote and nourish in your living becomes its own creature that evolves and grows in each different situation or environment. Some goodness -morals and ethics- are large and some are tiny and hidden. Wisdom must be applied to know what is appropriate and healthy for each situation. But goodness, or well-living, brings variety, interest, delight, and satisfaction to the daily grind. Just look at all the animal videos on the internet!
- Faithfulness: Flora, or plant life, is much like Faithfulness. It begins as a seed that finds its own healthy environment, sets down roots, and grows strong for as long as its life is nourished. It can be uprooted, or left to wither and die. One person’s faithfulness, planted where it is not wanted, may become another person’s weed that needs removing. We must grow our faithfulness so that we can take shelter in it when the storms come. But we must always weed and prune our faithfulness to be sure that we are growing in the best environment without damaging what is not ours to grow into.
- Gentleness: The foundation of rock and dirt under our feet holds together the fiery core within the Earth, keeping us grounded with gravity. So too, an attitude of solid gentleness must be the foundation and dirt in which we grow all our attitudes and intentions. If there isn’t enough soil for us to plant in, then other natural elements will harm instead of heal us. We must be gentle on ourselves when we are broken and hurting so that we may sooth and shore up the raw, molten core of our soul. But there is no better place to build and plant a healthy, successful life than in the gentleness that offers strength and grace to self and to others. Pursue your dreams with all your heart, but keep gentleness under your feet so you do not lose your footing and fall on your face. Pride trips up the best of intentions. Be gentle and humble; not thinking of yourself as better than or worse than anyone else. But gently think of others more often than selfishly focusing on your own grasping needs. We are all standing on the same ground, after all.
- Self-Control: Iron sharpens iron and the words of Truth are a two edged sword. You can either protect, serve, or harm another with your choices. Self-control is the tool you use to present yourself in this world. What is in your hand? It will be different according to your own gifts and goals. Do you wield a farm tool, a weapon, a pen, an instrument? What is in your hand to temper and train yourself? Be careful with yourself, with your tongue, your attitude, your temper, and your tools. Even the most innocent of toys can cause harm when not used as intended. Self-control is not so much a scary and harsh discipline. It may need to be at times for your own safety. But in the big picture of your life, learning how to manage yourself and interact well with others, will be seen as your strength. You will be an intricately beautiful, more functional, and more productive person with such flexibility, strength, and endurance as to last more than just your life-time. You will have a legacy that continues after you are gone.
These are the First Fruits of Freedom. When you apply them to all your living, there is no law that can come against you for them alone. Granted how you choose to serve out and consume these fruits may cause problems. No one likes rotten fruit being thrown at them.
Live wisely and well with others. Grow great things. Enjoy the abundance or your produce.
These thoughts are a continuation of an article I wrote, 18 hints about Relationships and You: As seen in a Garden Parable. In it I speak of our lives as being a garden and how we relate to other gardens (or people) in all the relationships of our lives. Here I continue that imagery and talk about the produce of our lives, or the ‘first fruits” of our living.