the fruits of ritual

wild apples on forest floor

There’s a woods I like to walk in. Far off the beaten path (and hikers aren’t supposed to go off the beaten path, so shhh, don’t tell anyone) there’s a wild apple orchard, overgrown and voluptuously prolific. In the fall, the ground is literally covered with fallen fruit as far as the eye can see. I sometimes sit on my heels in the moss, and wonder: Who planted these trees? They seem somewhat evenly spaced, which makes me think they used to be part of a small, working orchard. But perhaps they’re wild after all – the seeds carried and dropped by birds or other animals, the trees sprung randomly from the rich, loamy soil.

If they were indeed planted on purpose, I wonder how the farmer felt, that first year his trees produced fruit. After nurturing them for so long, did his apples get eaten by bugs? Or did he harvest them joyfully by hand, pressing them into cider, or storing them in baskets in a cellar?

If you develop a regular ritual practice, over time, with attention and care, there is fruit to be harvested. It could be the deepening or strengthening of your consciousness, or an increasing calmness, patience, or flexibility. It could also be a seeping joy or lightness that slowly, perhaps almost imperceptibly, begins to infuse your life.

What fruits have you harvested?