Welcome to Words from the Edge

This is a site where you can share faith and spirituality with women and men who long to expand their horizons and move more deeply into the wide spiritual dimensions of life. It’s written with the same edgy content that characterised Tarella Spirituality, but simpler to navigate and more tablet and smart phone friendly. You can still reread favourites on www.tarellaspirituality.com

I welcome comments and suggestions. You can reach me at judith@judithscully.com.au


About a fig tree

During my childhood I lived in several different houses and each had a fig tree somewhere in the back yard. Once I moved beyond youthful perceptions about the look and texture of figs, I looked forward to their late summer fruiting.

Fig trees seem to have been around forever. Five centuries before Jesus was born an Assyrian sage told a story about a fig tree that had never fruited. Despite the tree’s pleas the owner decided to cut it down and replace it. The story, with variations, wound its way around generations of storytelling people.


Eventually Jesus himself retold it, but he changed the ending, giving the tree another chance to produce fruit. (Luke 13: 1-9) Two thousand years later another storyteller, Father Edward Hays (1931 – 2016), put his own spin on it. It read something like this:

While the gardener is manuring that unfruitful fig tree, he talks to it. The tree responds, because after all this is a story. The tree confides that she is not at all impressed at being just an ordinary, everyday fig tree. She would much prefer to be something more exotic. So she had put all her energy into becoming an apple tree, but nothing happened.

Then she tried to will herself into being a banana tree. Again no luck, so she made enquiries about the possibility of a graft or two and becoming a banapple tree.

In desperation she creatively considered something truly unique- maybe she could be a travelling tree, able to move around the world, stopping each night to rest her roots in some nice, deep soil. The drawback she felt, was how hard it would be to walk on her roots.
Bit by bit, as she faced her failure to be different, she fell into deep depression.

All this time, as she talked, she is holding her nose high in the air because she objects to the smell of the manure. As the gardener digs around her roots he points out that down there , in her roots, are her dreams, her history, her desires and possibilities, her memories of the long line of fig trees she came from.

Gently he suggests that maybe her energies are being directed in the wrong place and even though the manure might smell a bit it is necessary if she is to mature and become the fig tree she was born to be. And, in passing, he reminds her, she only has a year.

The fig tree thinks about what the gardener has said. She had so wanted to be something different, not just another fig tree. But maybe she had been looking in all the wrong places, maybe the answer lay within her. She decides to try putting her energy into letting whatever is in her roots flow upwards into her branches and mature into ripe figs.

That evening, as the gardener passed by on his way home the fig tree stopped him. Taking a deep breath she announced, “I’ve decided. I think I’ll be a fig tree.”

Over the years I’ve come to recognise that I drift into being that fig tree. I lose sight of what is God’s dream for me and try to produce whatever might be my equivalent of bananas. And when that happens my Gardener God digs around in my life, disturbing my roots and tipping some unwanted manure my way so that I can produce – figs!

Judith Scully

Wonderful to be here

Last week the Gospel gave us a glimpse of Jesus alone in the wilderness. This week he and his closest followers have climbed a small mountain.

Jesus was a mystery to them. One moment he was just ordinary, then he would do something right out of left field, like walk on water or challenge the temple priests or climb a steep hill to – admire the view? Well, no, to pray – again.

Sun-Shing-Through-Spring-4K-Wallpaper-1920x1200Whatever happened there made a deep impression on Peter, James and John. In church- speak it’s known as the transfiguration. Peter, James and John wanted to stay put on that mountain because in a mostly inaccessible place in themselves they knew that they had been part of a “God moment”. They couldn’t adequately put words around it, but they felt its mystery and transcendence right down to their toes. They also knew that what they witnessed went way beyond their experience of Jesus up to that point.

We all have occasional experiences like this, something we would probably hesitate to call a ‘God moment’, but might label as spiritual. If we try to talk about it to someone we love or trust, we run out of words and end up saying “You had to be there….”

This week, try to find time to think back to one or more of those “God moments” in your own life. Relive them and as you do so and thank God for the gifts that they were and are.

Recall a moment of great joy ……communal or personal. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Recall a place where time stood still. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Recall a shaft of understanding, a knowing that was like a shaft of light. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Recall a hurtful occasion, when you were able to forgive or be forgiven. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Recall a moment when peace slipped surprisingly into your spirit, and stayed for a while. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Sometimes a smell or a sound takes you straight back to a special and unforgettable time and place. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Recall an answered prayer. “Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Recall a time when you recognised that you were loved. “Lord it is wonderful to be here.”

God is a God of surprises. God is mystery. It takes courage sometimes to trust God’s voice within us. In that moment, like Moses before the burning bush, God says:
“———————-, take off your shoes. This is holy ground. “

And you respond,
“Lord, it is wonderful to be here.”

Judith Scully