Signs of Hope
We had talked to the tree specialists in January. We had received their bid, and then as the date of surgery neared, we decided to wait. We would have plenty of time before leaves began to sprout.
The the winter storm unfolded in Texas in ways that we thought unimaginable. Ice built up on roofs, on tree limbs, on cars, and on streets. Snow fell (which looked beautiful), but the mist that fell through the night when we reached 5 degrees created a hard shell on top. Then the power and water. Our family managed to keep the water pipes from freezing, and we got caught up in rolling blackouts (only one being something that may have require a crew to repair).
Others were not so fortunate. They went days without heat or gas. Many lost heat. All of this happening in temperatures that remained just above or below 10 degrees most days.
Then as we began to recover, we got on the list of the tree specialist. Because we had only lost three limbs (no threat to houses or driveways) we ended up on the “yellow” list. Those on the red had to come first.
But our concern was Rosie the Red Bud. I have talked about Rosie before. She and I have maintained a relationship that goes between love and hate that settles usually in tolerance. She stands fifty feet tall now, and the tree guy says she could easily grow another thirty feet.
As much as I hate the more than more than forty pounds of acorns she drops from late August through November, the more than thirty bags of leaves she drops from October through December, and the pollen she manages to use to cover three driveways and the cars in or near those driveways … I hated more the thought that she might damaged.
So many of us lost trees and shrubs. Even some of our Live Oaks in the rest of our yard are struggling still. But Rosie is the prettiest tree in our yard, so we were pretty worried.
The tree people came and did their work. The trimmed out all the deadwood. They raised the canopy. They pronounced Rosie and her friends healthy. But she still looked dead. She had not even put out leaf buds.
Isn’t that the way of living for so many of us? We have been through so much. We feel broken and damaged. Perhaps we have that feeling that we are not worth saving. Suffering … loss … grief … darkness.
The pruning begins. Jesus says that only when the vines that are pruned will they bear fruit. Brokenness is like pruning. It is hard … it means letting go of so many things … it means starting over again. Yet somehow, Jesus keeps saying over and over again that this is where God does the best work. The vine will be healthy and will bear more fruit than we ever thought possible.
Rosie reminded that of us. A little more than a week after the pruning, she had not only sprouted buds, we looked up to see the limbs full of tiny leaves. We can now return to our somewhat strained relationship, but I can say after that, there will be less complaining on my part.
After all, she became the symbol of hope. No matter the darkness or brokenness we have faced, she reminds me it is like a pruning. Fruitfulness follows pruning. Life … true, abundant life … follows dying.
This, friends, is the way of hope.
God, may our brokenness be the pruning that leads to fruitfulness, and may our dying be that which leads to life. Amen.