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Jesus Christ the Apple Tree –A curious metaphor for the title of this Christmas carol that first appeared in an1830 broadsheet in London, England. Fifty-four years later, the carol was included in the Divine Hymns, or Spiritual Songs: for the use of Religious Assemblies and Private Christians compiled by Joshua Smith, a lay Baptist minister from New Hampshire.

Whoever penned these five verses, perhaps a man of the soil, would have known about apple trees: their beauty, their blossoms/ fruit, and their shade/protection. From his imagination schooled in Scripture, it was not such a leap to equate these characteristics to the apple tree in the Song of Songs 2:3, to the mustard tree in Luke 13:19, and to the tree of life in the New Jerusalem as found in Revelations 22: 1-2: all slant images of the mystery of the Christ in whom he drew succor. “This fruit does make my soul to thrive/It keeps my dying faith alive.”

Countless worshipers have done similarly.

Do check out this carol’s piercing beauty on YouTube as arranged by Elizabeth Poston, a prolific English composer, writer, and academic. The choir of King’s College offers a moving presentation.

Merry Christmas to you and to all you hold dear in your heart!

 

 

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Whenever we sound the depths of people, places, and things, we invariably find a significant story. This is true of peaches. Among summer’s fruits, peaches always evoke the “Ah!” response; their downy skins, their swaggering blush, their rousing aroma, and their candied taste engorge the senses and leave us yearning for more.

Such delectable fruit originated in Northwest China in the region between the Tarim Basin and the slopes of the Kunlun Shan Mountains and dates back to 2000 BCE. Emperors and dignitaries savored peaches during festive banquets.

It’s no wonder that a myth about celestial peaches evolved over the centuries. Its central figure is XiWangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, dispenser of prosperity, longevity, and eternal bliss. In her palace garden grew peach trees, their tangled branches spanning three thousand leagues across and reaching to the heavens, affording a ladder for the gods to move between heaven and earth. However, it took three thousand years for the fruit to ripen. A long wait, indeed, but the miraculous harvest prompted XiWangmu to host a banquet for her fellow Taoist gods. The peaches became immortal, ever plentiful to seekers.

The next time you bite into a luscious peach, remember you are in special company.

 

 

 

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