Friday Thoughts: Pure Extra Virgin

william-dyce-the-garden-of-gethsemane-1860

William Dyce, “The Garden of Gethsemane”, 1860*


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To your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday, come and gone, no more than a watch in the night.

—Psalm 90:4


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One good olive.

There are so many factors.

The altitude. The light. The soil. The temperature. The rainfall. The wind. The dew point and humidity. The age of the tree.

Then there are those factors that we can control: pruning, watering, fertilizing, fanning, netting, and wrapping chilly trees with burlap or fleece.

And of course there are those other factors, those that fall somewhere in-between, between our control and our complete lack thereof: most of these relate to the sneaky work of numerous little thieves—animals, birds, insects, and perhaps even fellow farmers or other hungry travelers who just happen to pass by.

But when all is said and done—when all the factors are poured into the olive equation, mixed-up well, and left to unify or settle out—the fruit that’s produced by the world’s most nostalgic, symbolic, and romantic of trees means very little (at least in digestive terms) if it’s simply left to shrivel up and fall to the ground.

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Picking an olive is perhaps the highest part of the art.

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When to do so? And toward what end?

If too early, great potential is squandered.

If too late, great taste is lost.

If indecisive, we might as well let nature enjoy it for the time being—for one way or another—God’s process will eventually return it to the earth.

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And yet, we’re still not done, for even if the olive is picked at just the right time, from just the right tree—the one that has grown in all the right circumstances—when it comes to the culmination of olive production, all is moot if the precious fruit of the womb is never squeezed.

For no matter how good the olive, without applied pressure, there’s nothing left to be labeled “pure extra virgin”.


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But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a women…

—Galatians 4:4


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—Howard Hain

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* Gethsemane is the name of a garden on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It appears in the Greek of the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark as Γεθσημανή (Gethsēmanē). The name is derived from the Aramaic ܓܕܣܡܢ (Gaḏ-Šmānê), meaning “oil press”.

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3 thoughts on “Friday Thoughts: Pure Extra Virgin

  1. Lucian Clark

    Ah, the Mystery of all the mysteries engaged and intertwined in the magnificently and mysteriously designed plan of redemption now unfolding once again!

  2. cenaclemary12

    Much the same can be said for grapes which are processed into wine. Before machine presses, the stompers would dance around in the vat to squash the grapes. A good example of nimble footwork. May we press on in the race to the finish line, keeping our eyes on the prize…Jesus!

  3. Richard Nalepa

    Howard, Again you come through with a thoughtful and intriguing reflection.
    Christmas Blessings and my prayers to you and all your family.
    Fr. Richard cp

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