"A Fruitful Misunderstanding"

October 11, 2018

Ah, fall has arrived, which calls to mind certain traditions of the season. For many, it’s a time to head to a pumpkin patch to select the best pumpkin, take it home to carve into a jack-o-lantern and possibly dry its seeds as a yummy snack. But that’s only one of the joys of autumn. To me, the season doesn’t really start until I’ve had a nice warm cup of apple cider, ideally garnished with a cinnamon stick.

Long before fall arrives, however, I am usually assigned one or more fall-related articles to write for the magazine where I work. This year, my task was to learn all about the history of apple bobbing, and I happily dove into the research, knowing I would uncover some fascinating bits of trivia along the way. While this process often reveals information that’s wholly new to me, this time I stumbled across something that I had heard before, but that now took on a totally different meaning.

To explain, let me share a memory. In my childhood home, we had an illustrated Bible that, whenever possible, I would sneak off its shelf, take with me to a quiet place and spend hours immersed in its stories. I read it so often that, if pressed, I could close my eyes and describe many of the illustrations in minute detail. One of the images that fascinated me was of Eve, listening to the snake in the tree as he dangled an apple before her. Something about that image intrigued me. Studying her face in those crucial moments before she made that fateful choice, I saw a rich tapestry of emotions played across its surface: curiosity, fear, hunger, uncertainty, and more. I found myself drawn to that page, again and again.

Given that experience, if you’d asked me what the forbidden fruit was, I would have said without hesitation that it was an apple. In the many years after that, anytime I would read those passages, although the Bible verse only said ‘fruit’ (Genesis 3:6), my mind supplied the image of a shiny, red apple. Going back to the original text, however, the fruit is not specifically identified. Some scholars suggest that this may be so that the unbilled fruit star of the Genesis passage wouldn’t get a bad rep— among fruit, it could be viewed as the real “bad apple of the bunch,” so to speak. Among the many theories out there, it’s proposed that it could be a fig, grape or wine, citron, nut or even wheat. It’s believed that the apple error may be due to a linguistic pun, connecting the Latin word, mălum, which means “evil,” with mālum, a Latin term borrowed from Greek that means “apple.”

I’d heard this before, but in having a reminder, something else was revealed to me. An image popped into my mind: I was holding something in my hands, but I couldn’t tell what it was. As I opened my fingers, I expected to see an apple, only to find I was holding an avocado. Thinking about this image, what occurred to me was this: how many times do I think I know the whole story, only to find that I don’t know everything or that what I thought I knew is, in fact, wrong? It isn’t just me, though: I’ve often seen how we all can think that we have all the facts, only to have one thing challenge all those assumptions. But that’s a good thing. Seeing something or someone that we thought we knew through fresh eyes—ones not limited by what we think we know—can be a tremendous gift. If we accept it and lay down our assumptions, we can gain a whole new perspective.

Sam is a member of CHS and an editor with Venice Gulf Coast Living Magazine.

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