Friday, April 3, 2009

Pruned

My parents are "garden nerds" ...I use this term with affection and they know it. Here are some pictures of their garden in their back yard:


It really is a magical place from about May through September. You know in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy walks out of the house after the cyclone has dropped it in Oz and she opens the door and the whole world turns from black and white to technicolor in an instant? That is what it feels like to walk onto my parents back patio... the Oz of Omaha!!!

What I forget sometimes though is it takes a lot of "black and white" time to get to that Oz like state. For half of the year...it's pretty bleak back there:

(and this pic was taken in March...just imagine what January looks like!!!).

I can't say for sure, because I have never asked him directly, but I have to imagine it is painful for my step-dad to cut down his gardens in the Fall. Each flower, each stem was nurtured by him for months while it grew. Some plants he even grows in pots indoors during the winter so that they are strong and hearty when Spring arrives and are up to the challenge of existing out in the soil for all to admire. He prepares them for the cruel world and the challenges Mother Nature has in store as best he can. But though he knows it is necessary for a hearty healthy harvest next season...I am sure it is painful to prune them all down to nothing.

I have been thinking about those gardens a lot lately. I read a passage today that made me think that the love and care that my dad gives to his gardens, and the pain he feels when it comes time to cut them away, to prune them, in preparation for the coming year, are how God feels as he tends to us...His children...His garden. Here is the passage:

"Pruning means cutting, reshaping, removing what diminishes vitality. When we look at a pruned vineyard, we can hardly believe it will bear fruit. But when the harvest comes, we realize that the pruning allowed the vines to concentrate their energy and produce more grapes. Grateful people learn to celebrate even amid life's hard and harrowing memories because they know that pruning is no mere punishment, but preparation.

When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for the future can likewise never be full. But our submitting to God's pruning work will not ultimately leave us sad, but hopeful for what can happen in us and through us. Harvest time will bring its own blessings..."
Turn My Mourning Into Dancing by Henri Nouwen

How many times in my life has something been taken from me where I felt as if God was punishing me? Many times...maybe "every" time.

God...it's not fair...

Why?

It doesn't make any sense

What good can possibly come from taking _________________ from me?

Y'all (yes it's happening...I'm becoming one of those people who get transplanted into Texas and start saying y'all...deal with it)... we're being pruned. He is not punishing us...but rather preparing us. Isn't that an incredibly amazing and painful way that God shows us His love? Now don't get me wrong...most times I would prefer God to show me how much He loves me by giving me a big ole bag of cotton candy and a new pair of shoes...good thing I don't make those kinds of eternal decisions, as I would be an overgrown thistle patch by now!!!

But y'all (again...deal) I have been pruned...and it has hurt...it has been some of the most unendurable pain I could have never imagined...on that cold December day when I watched as they lowered my best friend's body into the cold hard ground and I fell to my knees in grief and sobbed in my mother's arms...God was pruning me...preparing me...loving me.

And you know what...I am grateful. How crazy does that sound? It sounds crazy to me and I am typing this...but I AM GRATEFUL. He chose me to love her, He chose me to be her best friend, He chose me to share things with her that no one else got to share, He chose me to make her smile when she was suffering, He chose me to speak at her memorial, He chose me to mourn her...and He chose to prepare ME for a life lived without her. He loves me this much...to prepare me...to prune me...and I am grateful.

I am pruned and prepared and am ready for the harvest....

2 comments:

Georgette said...

Steph--What a beautiful message! Thanks for sharing it. Love, Mom

Dank said...

Nicely done, Steph. I see you referred to both your Mom and I as "Garden nerds". You could also say we are "bird nerds", "band nerds", "baseball nerds", all kind of nerds and proud of it! By the way, Henri Nouwen is a favorite author of mine. His book, "The Wounded Healer" had a profound impact on me at a time in my life when I really needed to hear what he has to say. Check it out sometime, Dan