November 1st, 2011

Joseph Smith

Sparkling Fake Fruit

Not long after I got old enough to be part of the LDS church’s Young Women’s program, I remember a surreal experience that happened. They brought us all to one of the YW leader’s homes for a very special activity. When we entered, the house was dark. Smoke machines were running, all adding to the eerie experience as we walked along. I recall we were all told to hold onto a string as we made our way though the darkness and we followed with our hands loosely grasped on the string. We saw some scenes illuminated that told us the story we all knew well already of Lehi’s "tree of life" vision from the Book of Mormon.

We girls made our way along the path, holding to the string, going through the mist and darkness. We passed a representation of the "great and spacious building" full of prideful people of the world. We continued on until we came to a depiction of the "tree of life" at the end of our string path. We were invited to each take a piece of fruit from this tree and we each did. The fruit was a precious prize to me. It was fake, a plastic pear-shaped piece of fruit smothered in glitter. I remember loving the way it smelled. It made my mouth water, even though it didn’t smell like fruit but like glitter or tinsel. I still had a strange, pleasant reaction when I smell that weird tinsel smell that seems most prevalent around Christmas. It is a strange feeling and my mouth still waters a little bit when I smell it. I still have that piece of fruit somewhere in a box of keepsakes.

It was a symbol, then and now. Back then, it symbolized the goal we LDS young women were all supposed to be striving for. The journey to walk that straight and narrow path of trial and tribulation, holding fast to the "iron rod," the gospel, and coming at last to our celestial reward. It was beautiful and sparkling and we wanted it. But in reality, that piece of fruit was a vague symbol. In my young mind it was whatever I wanted most. It was this vague happiness. The fake sparkling fruit was displayed on my dresser for a long time as I was growing up. It was my vague, beautiful, goal of celestial glory and happiness.

But the symbol of it now is a different one. Beneath the glitter, the smell, the symbol, there is still a fake plastic piece of fruit. While a real pear would nourish a hungry stomach this fake fruit gives no real nourishment. It looks pretty and it sparkles. But like the fakeness of the fruit, the promise of the symbol was ultimately fake as well. The goal, however pleasant to think of, isn’t any more real than that that plastic pear. It sparkles but it does not truly nourish.