Tag Archives: John 15

Whittled Into Holiness

“…they climbed their ladders to whittle and prune the trees into holiness”
― Catherynne M. Valente, In the Cities of Coin and Spice
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The Old Unpruned Apple Tree

Were you praying for me this morning?  Yep!  I knew you were because I had one of God’s angels show up at my door this morning…even before my coffee was done brewing.  Well, maybe not an actual angel, but he did carry a Godly message when he introduced himself as the guy from the Tree Care Service.  I looked at his card, then back at him.  Did he know that this morning I had been reading John 15:2?  “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Actually I have been thinking a lot about pruning lately.  Looking over our property I noticed several dead trees and branches.  The pear tree that produced so much for us was looking thick and bushy.  And I wondered about the old apple tree at the edge of the lawn.  It had produced nothing except one misshapen tiny green apple.  The branches were twisted and void of many leaves.  It looked hopelessly lost sitting in an untended weed patch.  I had it marked as “ready for the firewood pile”, that is until the Tree Care Guy showed up today looking for work.

After checking credentials and asking key questions we took a walk discussing the trees in question.  Stopping at the old apple tree I told him my plans to add it to the firewood pile.  He asked me why I didn’t want to keep it and I told him it looked pretty hopeless to me…fruitless dead wood struggling to just stay standing.  And then he said (and this is the God message part), “It is not hopeless.  You just can’t see what’s living and green inside.”  He told me that by pruning it back and fertilizing it a bit we should have a blooming apple tree in a couple of years.

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I heard God’s message loud and clear.  God can see beyond my weary dead branches, past what feels dead and hopeless to me.  He knows there is life hidden inside that can still produce fruit.  AND He knows when and how to prune my particular heart and mind and life.

I read that pruning is an essential gardening skill and that when it is done correctly, it will enable new and healthy growth as well as an abundance of crop producing flowers.  As I look out my window now at my properly pruned apple tree I try to envision buds and blossoms, fruit and pie.  That’s hard to do today.  My Tree Care Guy has whittled and pruned back the dead and dying to the green and living wood, leaving not much more than a bare trunk with hardly a branch for the birds.  But because of his knowledge and skill he told me confidently it would bear good and abundant fruit again.

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So, I thank God for my unexpected visitor this morning and the reminder that God is the Great Gardener who sees the potential within us and knows what needs to be pruned away in order to be fruit-bearers for His Kingdom.  I am ready to be “whittled into holiness”.

I knew in my heart that I wanted to know the garden intimately, to know all the flowers in each season, to be there from spring through autumn, digging, pruning, planting, feeding, rejoicing.”  -Elizabeth Murray

If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com

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Fruit That Lasts

“A man watches his pear-tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap!” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”  That may sound like an exaggeration, but as I have watched the fruit on our pear tree ripen I’m beginning to believe his point.  Soon after the snow melted the tree stood alone at the crest of the hill wrapped in spring green leaves, beautifully dressed in her frilly white blossoms.  By mid-summer the branches dripped with the promise of buttery fruit as blossoms took the shape of tiny pears.  As August ended the limbs of the tree bowed with the weight of the fruit and now I watch like a sentry waiting for that day when the fruit is perfect for picking.
But each day brings new threats that the fruit will not last until that ten minutes of perfection.  It seems that others also have been watching and waiting in hopes of a taste from the tree.  Little by little I am noticing the fruit I have guarded is disappearing and I have spotted the thieves!  One evening as I passed by the window overlooking the fruit tree I noticed a beautiful young deer nibbling some of the fruit that had dropped on the ground.  I watched as she munched away clearing the ground around the tree.  And it was ok when she nibbled a fruit off of a lower branch.  But when she suddenly danced up onto her hind legs to reach a little of the higher fruit I felt conflicted.  The tree was loaded and I was glad to share with nature, but my less-than-generous side felt alarmed and afraid that she might go tell her friends of her find and there would be nothing left for me to enjoy.

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And tell her friends, she did.  The next evening she came back with a friend.  The following evening there were three of them.  Others have been coming, too.  Several evenings a doe and her wobbly fawn dined at our tree.  Other times a red snarly-looking fox cleaned the grounds.  And when none of the others are there I have noticed the rabbits nibbling on left-overs as well as large black crows taking their portion from the top.  You would think that with all these visitors having their meals for the past few weeks that there would be little left for human consumption.  But, ironically, as I let go of the fear of “not-enough-for-me”, the pears in the middle branches are beginning to ripen to a perfection that I would not have enjoyed if I had hoarded the fruit from the animals.  The joy of sharing is making that portion all the more sweet.
I love that pear tree in every season, but it is most enjoyable at harvest time when I can share the abundance with the animal community that surrounds GraceStone Sanctuary.  I have learned much about nature as I have observed these evening dining rituals.  And my belief in fearless generosity is expanding as I am learning to graciously share with my human community as well.  My prayer is that I, too, may bear fruit that will last.

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You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. – John 15:16

If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com
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Scatter Joy!

Day 112 April 22, 2014
JOY

“Scatter joy!” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“…when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy…” -Job 38:7

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success… The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”  ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.  -John 15:11


Abide in Love

Day 46 February 15, 2014
God’s Love

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. -John 15:9

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For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38,39

But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8

“One word

Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:

That word is love.”

― Sophocles