Shakespeare and the Fruit of the Spirit



As I continue my journey to find the fruit of the spirit I knew that I wanted to look beyond the biblical texts. The words of Paul penned in the first century have been embedded into culture through all the following centuries. Many writers share these ideals in their work. It made sense that I would start with Shakespeare. Many studies show that Shakespeare is the most quoted writer of the English language. The plays and poems that he wrote have worked themselves into daily vernacular in a way that most writers could only ever dream of achieving.

The timing of this also coincided with the New Year and the time I decided to write a weekly newsletter. My writing is an ever-evolving process and thanks to the encouragement of others I continue to expand my field and narrow my vision. Using quotes from other writers does this for finding the fruit of the Spirit. It gives me a more specific way of thinking about the fruit of the Spirit. It also breeds ideas for me to take action. Taking on a broad subject with a narrow focus is made so much easier by the work of other creative men and women. 

My Quotes from Shakespeare

LOVE ~ They do not love, that do not show their love.

JOY ~ With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

PEACE ~ Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains.

PATIENCE ~ No, I will be the pattern of all patience; I will say nothing.

KINDNESS ~ Kindness in women, not their beauteous looks, shall win my love.

GOODNESS ~ Virtue is bold, and goodness is never fearful.

FAITHFULNESS ~ To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

GENTLENESS ~ Your gentleness shall force, More than your force move us to gentleness.

SELF-CONTROL ~ A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

This collection of quotes can give us a new way to view each of the fruits. My favorite was definitely, “ With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” This gave me such a delightful image of a life lived with joy. In a culture that gets caught up in the perfections of youth and hyper awareness of image, living a life we enjoy can be forgotten. Yes, we LOL at comedy and GIFs to elicit a chortle abound on every social media platform. A truly joy filled life is often overlooked because it does not fit the glossy image of achievement that we craft for the internet. What does a joyful life look like? Quite frequently it is messy, filled with games, projects, and baked goods that have brought us into connection with others. It may put some pounds on our waists and some wrinkles on our eyes. It can probably be found in pillows that are squashed rather than fluffed and blankets strewn rather than folded after a family movie night. A life of joy is made with other people.

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” This gave me such a delightful image of a life lived with joy. ”

— Caitlin Mallery

Then there was the idea that saying nothing was the pattern of patience. By nature, I am a fixer, a doer. This quote ground me to halt in the middle of several difficult scenarios. Maybe I really didn’t need to say anything, maybe I needed to listen. Being patient is not just waiting for something, it is also waiting through something. Putting out effort to effect change before it is ready is not really what I am called to do. Sometimes others don’t need me to fix their problems, they just need me to listen to them and say nothing.

Shakespeare is a poet and uses such stunning imagery in his language: peace like mountains, goodness as bold, gentleness as an effective force to change things. These are images that can live in the mind and the heart long past the moment they are presented to us. So when I see a mountain, (which is every single time I step outside) I can be reminded of the peace that I have in Jesus Christ. Being bold to step out from the status quo and create change for good in a world whose wounds are on public display everywhere. All the forceful arguments splattered across Facebook and Twitter, people using their social media to tear others down for thinking differently from them. No amount of spewing will change someone’s mind, yet a gentle answer might make them reconsider things from a different perspective. 

Kindness is the way to win love, and love is something that must be seen to be known. A declarative statement is all well and good, but does it make you feel loved? Beautiful people exist that are unkind which creates drama and tension that may make for good television, but is a terrible way to go about the daily life of grocery shopping and mundane phone calls to tech support. An act of kindness done for me is the most beautiful way to feel loved. 

“An act of kindness done for me is the most beautiful way to feel loved.”

— Caitlin Mallery

“To thine own self be true” is much quoted, but I cannot say that I ever hear people discuss the second part of that statement, “thou cannot be false to any man.” Knowing the truth about one’s self should not be used as a weapon of self-importance or vanity. It should not excuse malicious actions and does not mean to be selfish. When I am living out the truth that God loves me and has given me certain gifts and skills, then I can be a better friend, sister, mother, and wife. I cannot live someone else’s vision for my life. It is wise to learn who I am, and who I am not. 

This journey with Shakespeare continues to peel back new layers to the fruit of the Spirit. When I first started this project of looking for evidence of the Spirit I was content to see it in daily life. As I continue I find that fruit is in so many places I had never even considered before. It can be found in the works of great writers, authors, musicians, and artists of every medium. I look forward to a continued journey through the works of other men and women, finding fruit as it drops onto my lap and spreading it out in a bountiful feast for all to share.