Sunday, March 7, 2010

Long Winters, Hard Pruning & Spring Fever

I’ve been learning some things lately, one of which came to me as I pruned the hollies in front of our home just the other day. These bushes were remarkably overgrown when we first bought our house, necessitating an immediate sharp trimming. Since then, I have only snipped off the new growth yearly, trying to keep their size down. The time had come though, toward the health & future of the plant itself, for a severe & harsh pruning. The overall aesthetic of our home required it, but also the plants had become infested with some sort of mold or other, the healing of which only a cutting away of affected pulp would accomplish. So, out with the electric saw.

I happily sawed & cut, clearing away mounds of what appeared, at a distance, to be healthy limbs. And, as happens when I’m lost in the garden, thoughts floated in and out of my loosely focused mind. As if offering the plants an explanation for their sudden & severe nakedness, I heard myself thinking, ‘I’m pruning to improve your health. This cutting away will insure a future vitality, & a usefulness that’s in line with my plan for this home.’

Did my holly bushes hear my thoughts? Did they know why they were being reduced almost to stubble? I highly doubt it. Did they even care? Not likely.

And then it struck me: it wasn’t me thinking thoughts toward my bushes, it was the Holy Spirit – using measures He knows I will perfectly understand – speaking to me about my own life, my own struggles with change and search for purpose.

See, the past few years have been a bit of a struggle; sort of an existential wrestling with who I am, why I’m here, & the purpose for my life. Like my hollies, this has been a season of the loss of what appeared, at a distance, to be healthy ‘limbs.’ I’ve felt exposed at times, vulnerable & shorn, but also felt a sense of humility and openness to possibility that I’ve never experienced. There’s an urgency toward creativity that has been surprising & fresh – having never really thought myself creative. Through all of this: my wrestling, my mistakes, losses & gains, I’m gleaning a tender understanding of the process of life, discovery, & the nature of forgiveness.

I’m at a turning point, in a manner of speaking, having been cut back almost to stubble. I’ve felt the severity of that naked vulnerability, and yet the assurance of the Gardener’s wisdom. I don’t know why, or what it was, but there must have been a mold of some sort afoot, which could only be cleared away with the cutting away of pulp. I know that some things can only be grown healthy after a severe & harsh pruning. But unlike my hollies, I have heard the voice of the Gardener, and I know that after this, there is vitality, health & usefulness. I know, too, that it’s all in line with the Gardener’s plan for this ‘home.’

Never before has winter seemed so long or so severe, but I know there is a Spring coming. And I know it’s coming for me.



Susannah said...

This just in from my Aunt in Georgia. She (& the other women in my family) is one of my heroes!

My precious one, you never cease to amaze me. What a grand analogy you have written. And, it is so very true. If we never get “pruned” by THE GARDNER, can you imagine the total mess we would be? Just as with bushes, their limbs would be reaching in scattered directions with no way for the flowers to get the much needed sun for their life or, for that matter, for the smaller leaves hidden by the growth. I do so love you and your family. May GOD continue to guide you, comfort you and give you HIS peace , and may you continue to be obedient to HIM and listening to HIS “quiet, small voice”. AMEN and AMEN. Susie

Crucis said...

One of life's greatest realizations is that God dwells inside all of us. Baptists preach Salvation and Redemption. In actually, Salvation is the realization that Gods is already present within us, waiting for us to understand he was and always has been with us all along.

That realization does not need a church, a preacher, nor a critical message. It can come at anytime when we are receptive for the message.

Too many churches preaches our destination in heaven, ignoring the fact that heaven begins here on earth and continues after death. Our earth-walk can be a fruitful and rewarding as that after we have completed our time on earth.

Ain't life grand?

Sandy said...


Yesterday our minister asked us not to open our Bibles but to just listen to him read Psalm 63 which begins:

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

Ohhhh, we all thirst for the warm spring rain sometimes, don't we? Our minister followed by saying that it is a good and beautiful thing to thirst for God. You are not alone in this - and He will provide for us all. Thanks be to God!

Susannah said...

Crucis~ Thanks for your comment. God is 'there' & has 'been there' all along, indeed. For those who prefer a more definitive term, I believe that's referred to as the "Prevenient Grace" of God. Thanks for your thoughts.

Sandy~ Amen & amen. It is a good & beautiful thing to thirst for God. amen. (You're just the best!)

Joe said...

Before long, Spring will have sprung.

Z said...

I think your Spring might just be exceptional this year, Susannah!
Your Aunt is SO SO right...and so were you when you realized what you were so obviously being shown... and so well written!!

I just loved this blog post...and feel blessed by it.
Now, I have to apologize in case you'd seen a comment I made after yours at my faith blog (including calling you Suzanne..sorry! WHY did I do THAT?)... My comment to yours was NOT aimed at you and I've described it better there and don't want to go into it here too much. Just know I did NOT mean you! but you should know that :-) xxx

Anyway, your piece is so good I might copy/paste it to friends..THANK you!

Susannah said...

Joe~ "Before long, Spring will have sprung."
That's what I'm holding out for!

Z~ Exceptional? You really think so? I think maybe, too! (Please, dear one, no apologies necessary!)

Thank you so much for your encouragement re: this piece. Like I said, a lot going on lately & this is the first I've actually 'written' in a while. It's uplifting to receive such encouragement. ;) Please send it to anyone you think might enjoy it!

Renee said...

Susannah, that was excellent. Reminds me of a post I wrote a couple years ago. I need to be reminded of this on a regular basis.