Tag Archives: wood

Wood and Flame

“Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.”― Henry Ford

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Something is taking over the mountain!  Wood piles!  Piles of wood are popping up everywhere this time of year.  They line driveways and paths.  They are piled high against houses and sheds.  I see them growing under trees and in meadows.  Everywhere!  Like flowers blooming in Spring the landscape is blossoming into wood piles.  It is a harbinger of warm hearths and winter fires burning the chill away on the Winter days ahead.

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Wood and fire – a cozy relationship unless you are the one being burned.  As the fire turns the log to ash we witness the final contribution of a life that began as just a small seed.  The tree-that-once-was is diminished to black dust.  The tree that weathered and changed with the seasons has sacrificed itself to the fire. Jack Gilbert, an American Poet of the last century says this about the fire and wood relationship: “We think the fire eats the wood.  We are wrong.  The wood reaches out to the flame.  The fire licks at what the wood harbors, and the wood gives itself away.”  Somewhere in what Jack says I hear a message of sacrificial giving.  It is as though in its final burning, the wood has achieved its sacred mission…to offer what it is made of in order for the fire to bring light and warmth in the midst of a dark and cold world.

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Beyond this mountain that I call home there is a dark, chilly world waiting for my contribution – and yours.  Am I  willing to share the talents and treasures that lie within me, collected from seasons of growth and change?  Am I willing to give myself away to that Holy Spirit Transforming Fire of God?  And what warmth and light could this sacrifice of mine bring to another?

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Proverbs 26:20 says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out…”  In the midst of all these piles of wood waiting to be consumed in the cold of winter, may I be mindful of the sacred transforming generosity that resides within each of us.  May I, too, reach out to that Holy Flame to offer the gifts God has harbored in me.
If you would like to more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our web site at gracestonesanctuary.com

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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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