April 9, 2011

I climbed a tree today.  It was an ancient apple, and it hadn’t been pruned in almost a lifetime, and I decided to try to make it more fruitful.  I climbed with a huge pair of pruning shears, but as I left the ground the years fell off and before long I was eight again, and memories of my childhood flooded my mind.

I am not as agile as I once was, there is less room to maneuver amongst the branches, and the tree bends a lot more under my weight than any tree ever did during my childhood’s skyward clambers.  But I still have fond and joyful memories of the pine, cherry and elm trees of my youth.

When I was six I fell from “The Old Oak Tree” which was actually an elm, and broke my arm.  That injury is still the excuse I give for my illegible handwriting.  I could move from one end of my yard to the other, moving from tree-to-tree without touching the ground, but you already know that, don’t you?  It’s a story I tell often.  My friend John built a multi-storied- multi-roomed tree fort where we spent hours. days sometime.  I could probably live in a tree house.

But this particular apple tree needed pruning, so up I climbed, pruners in hand, and down came more than a hundred suckers and stems, branches and brambles, in the hope of producing more fruit, better fruit than the tree has produced in decades.  Pruning, I would say to myself as I lopped off branches, is good for the tree.  I am doing it with caution, tenderness even; never cutting too quickly, and even after dozens of snips, I still look twice to make sure the branch I am about to remove needs to be removed.  When I am done, or at least done-in, there is a pile five feet high of apple branches that will provide warmth for a cool summer evening, so they will not be completely wasted ever as they are completely spent.

An ancient grape – vine is next.

I am hoping the pain of recent years falls to the ground like so many branches, and the vigor and vitality of my early faith blooms again with a bumper crop of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  I know the Gardener is more careful than I am, pruning only what he knows needs to be removed, there is no guessing when he prunes.

So I will try to stand still and let him do his work in me.

The crop in my friends tree will initially be smaller, but the fruit will be bigger and better than ever; and in time the harvest will increase as well.  I know God is hoping the same results from his pruning.


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