Last year, we got a very ominous letter from our homeowner's association (truthfully, their "power" scares me a little...I'm just sayin') -
WARNING: Any trees overhanging "common property" must be trimmed by the end of March, or it will be done by the association and charged to your account!
OK...our pepper tree's branches and leaves were hanging over into the next county, truth be told!!!
So, I knew we had to trim that tree. And I figured that WE might as well do it, rather than have THEM do it and send a bill: "That will be $10,000, ma'am. Thank you very much." We talked to our gardener about it, and he assured us that it was a job "he could do at a reasonable price."
"The Hub" beat me home the day our tree was "pruned." He met me in the driveway...not a good sign.
"Sweetie, the gardener told us that we probably wouldn't like the results, remember?
"Yes..." (tentative hesitation)
"But he promised us that it would grow back, right?"
"Yes..." (growing trepidation)
"Just remember that, OK?"
"Oh, no..." (abject terror)
He led me by the hand (not good that he thought I needed physical support), around the corner of the house...into the backyard...
I was speechless!!
The entire tree had been trimmed back to nothing but BARE BRANCHES!!
I started crying...it was so ugly...and I was sure the tree was dead.
I barely ate that night, moped around for the next several days...looked at that tree a thousand times. I just felt so sad. That tree had been with us for 25 years - my kids had played in it...I HAD PLAYED IN IT! It had shaded the little playhouse, and blocked the street light, and stood there like a sentinel in our backyard forever...
GONE! Cut down in his prime by an errant chainsaw and a crazy tree-killing maniac...
After about a week of mourning, I started going out every day to talk to Mr. Pepper. I told him how much I loved him. Told him that "he could do it - he could come back to life - he could grow." I hugged him.
And you know what?
That tree started to grow back...
At first, it was just a few little green sprigs, then a few more sprouts, and then the greenery began to grow exponentially...more and more, and faster and faster. And by the end of the summer, Mr. Pepper had made a full recovery, and had never looked more beautiful!!
I was talking to my oldest son the other night - he was telling me how his new "revival" of faith was great...but it was kinda hard, too. He told me how he just couldn't look at things the "same old way." How some of his friends didn't understand him anymore. How the way he thought about work, and money, and life had changed.
I told him I understood...
God trims us...sometimes back to our bare branches...to prepare us for new growth.
"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener...he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more...Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:1-2, 4-5)
Dear Lord, prune me where You will. Help me bear the pain of "lopping off old branches" of selfishness, and pride, of fear and disobedience. Prepare me for new growth. Make me into a beautiful tree that reflects the wise and loving hand of the Gardener of Life. Amen...
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"