Tag Archives: Gethsemani

Friday Thoughts: Pure Extra Virgin

by Howard Hain

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

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

—Psalm 90:4

.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.


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


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.


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”.

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

—Galatians 4:4


* 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”.




Lord, I cry

“‘Lord, I have cried to you, hear me.’ This is a prayer we can all say. This is a prayer  of  the whole Christ.”
In the selection from his great commentary on the psalms found in today’s readings, Augustine sees them as universal prayers. They’re not just prayers of an anonymous person from long ago, or prayers that have become part of Jewish worship or Christian worship, or even prayers I make my own today.

“This is not my prayer, but the prayer of the whole Christ.”

The psalm he calls a prayer of the whole Christ is a cry of pain, of fear. Hardly any words to it at all.  Christ prayed like this in the darkness of the garden of Gethsemani, the saint says, when his sweat became drops of blood. His prayer was not made of well-framed thoughts, it was the groaning of his heart.

All the cries of human heart are in that cry of Christ, Augustine continues, and his prayer does not end.  The story of the Passion of Jesus does not end. The garden is an everywhere, a timeless place, and his cry embraces all.

But the cries of Jesus are heard, the saint concludes, his pain and fear are taken away. Resurrection came for him, and it comes to those who are united to him.