The great doctor of the Church, St. Augustine, told a wonderful story in his Confessions:
“Yet had I a desire to commit robbery, and did so, compelled neither by hunger, nor poverty through a distaste for well-doing, and a lustiness of iniquity. For I pilfered that of which I had already sufficient, and much better. Nor did I desire to enjoy what I pilfered, but the theft and sin itself. There was a pear-tree close to our vineyard, heavily laden with fruit, which was tempting neither for its colour nor its flavour. To shake and rob this some of us wanton young fellows went, late one night (having, according to our disgraceful habit, prolonged our games in the streets until then), and carried away great loads, not to eat ourselves, but to fling to the very swine, having only eaten some of them; and to do this pleased us all the more because it was not permitted.Behold my heart, O my God; behold my heart, which You had pity upon when in the bottomless pit. Behold, now, let my heart tell You what it was seeking there, that I should be gratuitously wanton, having no inducement to evil but the evil itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved to perish. I loved my own error— not that for which I erred, but the error itself. Base soul, falling from Your firmament to utter destruction— not seeking anything through the shame but the shame itself!”
The desire for that which is forbidden is written in our fallen nature. So it was with my own children who ironically liked to steal pears in our backyard. We have since moved away from that first house, but as soon as fruit would begin to show in the early summer, I would find them munching on the unripe, tart, little pears in unguarded moments. Nothing I said or did would convince them to leave the fruit alone. I kept a huge basket of fresh, ripe fruit on the counter in the kitchen. They were frequently given fruit for snacks, but nothing was as tempting as plucking fruit straight from the tree.
When my husband and I sat down to craft a blog that spoke of our family and our faith, our first thought was to echo St. Augustine in our title. We both looked at each other and laughed: Stolen Pears was the ideal name. It speaks of concupiscence as well as the weird moments of those early years perfectly. Most importantly, it talks about how the most seemingly inconsequential acts can have fundamental effects on our lives. After all, it was this school boy prank that began St. Augustine’s obsession with the nature of evil which eventually led him (through many twists and turns) to the Catholic faith of his mother, St. Monica.
We had two beautiful pear trees along the back fence of our property. The children loved to play under those trees. In fact, one day, I was finishing lunch dishes while the children played in the backyard when suddenly, all went quiet. If you are a mother of small children, you know it is **never** a good thing when things get quiet. I rushed to the back door and opened it. Unseen, I stood in the door jamb as my eldest son said to his little brother, “M, go get Mommy. Show her what her big strong boy has done!” I quickly rushed to the side of the yard to see his accomplishment. There he was, my four year old maverik, standing on the top of our 5 foot privacy fence leaning on a young pear tree. He was so proud; I was terrified! There was no way that the pear tree should be able to hold his weight. I was pregnant and on blood thinners; I should not be lifting him down either. So I just asked him, “How are you going to get down?” He answered by doing. But, just as I had foreseen, the branches did not hold his weight a second time. He ended up sliding more than climbing down, earning a battle scar to make any man proud – a slash along his arm. I looked at him and said, “what a manly scratch!” Instead of crying, he preened.
Those pear trees were home to many an adventure in those early years. Stolen pears, stolen moments, and little faces that stole my heart from the first moment I saw them. Thus our name was chosen for us long before this blog began.