An apple tree stands outside my office window at FSM. You don’t ordinarily find an apple tree in the heart of the city, but this is no ordinary apple tree. This tree was planted in memory of Luan Gilbert, an FSM therapist who passed away years ago. The staff tells me that they harvest the apples each year, and that they are delicious. Those are reasons enough to make this tree extraordinary, but there is something more.
The apple tree, together with the work that happens here at FSM, brings to my mind these lines from Robert Frost’s “After Apple Picking”:
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
The lives we touch through FSM are our “fruit,” and as I watch the staff work, I see how they cherish those lives, how they strive not to let them fall. For too many, too often, when people fall, the world regards them as of no worth and discards them to lesser fates. What I have learned is that, at FSM, there are no fruit without worth.
Yes, there are those who have fallen and been “bruised or spiked with stubble” (show me someone who hasn’t), but at FSM there is no cider-apple heap. Some of the bruises are among the hardest to see – adults engaging in domestic violence, kids and adults damaged by violence, people of all ages and from all walks of life enduring the open wounds or carrying the jagged scars of the harshness of this world – but the FSM staff will not concede. They revere, defend, and nourish the inner fruit that is sometimes hard for the world to see.
The world reveals its misunderstanding in many ways, and one of the most telling is the order of our spending priorities. Over the past few years, funding for the reclamation of these lives has been declining from all sources. There is fruit to cherish, to harvest, lives in need of the kind of healing FSM can offer, but the lack of funding keeps them waiting. Again, I think of lines from Frost’s poem:
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
This is why FSM is holding an event like “We Are Family,” why we are asking our community to support us, why you are invited to help with the healing. Please come. Bring your friends; bring your checkbook.
The apple tree at FSM reminds us of those we have gone before and focuses us on those who are yet to come, and that is the something more that makes this tree stand apart. Let’s work together on behalf of the “ten thousand thousand fruit.” Let’s cherish them and not let them fall. Let none be swept away as of no worth.