Tuesday, 22 April 2008

... or free ?

Around the base of the tree – then only a few centimetres in diameter - there had always been a tump of grass, and with that part of the garden only being worked when it was cleared of growth at the end of summer, when the wild flowers had all set their seed, that was almost unseen. Until the year when I randomly chose to remove the tump I had not been aware that most of the bulk was not grass but an ants nest. It had built up the soil around the tree to some twenty centimetres above normal ground level, creating conditions that tended towards those resulting from planting too deep. Being an ants nest the soil would have been kept aerated by tunnels and passages, never forming into a completely solid mound of earth, and I assume it was this that prevented the death of the tree. It may not have died, but year after year the effects were well nigh insurmountable.
Having removed everything down to level ground I had wondered whether it would make any difference and hoped the tree might gradually pick up over the next few years. It did not take that long. The following spring the leaves arrived as usual, but then it transformed itself; it grew rapidly, flourishing, blossoming and bearing abundant fruit by the time I next took my sickle to clear the ground around it. It has since gone from strength to strength, and though it was always hoping to be, longing to be, and striving to be a pear tree, it was only when the intended fruit were finally produced that it could proclaim itself to be so.

These thoughts have been brought to mind by the picture of a tree on a book cover: a line drawing or engraving that shows a mature tree with a correspondingly full canopy and substantial root system. But it also shows the ground level as being half way up the length of the trunk; this completely contradicts one of the general rules that enable a tree to reach the level of maturity shown, and it was this that brought me out into the garden to view this year’s first blossoms opening, a proof of life in all its fullness without which this pear tree could never have borne fruit.

We cannot avoid the world in which we live. For as long as we live upon it we are of this place, but we are not made to wallow in it.
The seed of something far beyond our physical being is sown into our very existence, and the innocent awareness of that otherness glows in every infant and young child. We are called to recognize and follow that ‘first light’: to nurture it when retained, to search for it and rekindle it when lost, for it will never go out. It is always there to lead us back to where we are meant to be.
If, for whatever reason, we are buried too deeply in the world, we will not flourish.
If, in whatever way, our minds are too deeply engrossed with the world or any aspect of it, we cannot turn our spirit to matters beyond our day to day life, and without that ability we cannot increase our willingness to look in that direction.
Without looking we shall never see, and without a willingness to do so how shall we begin our search ?
Without reason to search we will fail to hunger and thirst, and without such needs how shall we pull ourselves out from the mire ?
How shall we feel the yearning and generate the longing that leads us to find our place in the world ? – with our feet firmly upon it, our charity laid out for all mankind, but with our hearts and minds rising above it ?

How ? By tapping into the life giving streams that will feed us and bring us to the place God made us to fill.
The sap is rising, not only in the trees around us but within ourselves; we know it all too well. It is part of our physical makeup, welling up within us as lust, anger, greed, gluttony, all those surges of feeling that have the power to swamp our inner convictions and our rationality.
We cannot rise above such things alone; in this life our feet will be forever anchored to the world: we cannot be completely done with such feelings while we still live. What enables us to conquer all that would rise within us, is the spiritual equivalent of the finely-falling and life-giving rain in which I stood while contemplating the pear tree: God’s grace; and the equivalent of the birch-sap surging into every extremity of its tree as shown by the drip, drip - as though of tears: God’s overflowing provision for each one of us.
God’s grace is freely given: it is there for you, for me, for everyone. Dear Lord, wherever would I be without it ?
And we are beckoned to the source of life, to the wellspring of spiritual sap that has the power to calm the flow of all that rises naturally within us. If we do our best to disconnect our taproot from the attractions and distractions of the world, gaining nourishment instead by grafting ourselves onto the ever-blossoming, ever-fruitful, ever-living vine that is our Saviour, our Shepherd and our Guide, we shall find ourselves within reach of our full potential, blossoming and bearing the fruit for which we were made.

“As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
unless it remains part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty ...”
(John 15:4-5)

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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