Friday, May 15, 2009

Blessed Are the Pruned

Happy the clean in heart — because they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 YLT

You won’t find this beatitude in your English-language New Testament. But the original Greek word for “pure” (of heart) is katharos, from which we get “cathartic.” It means cleansed by fire, and it can mean “pruned.”

Pruning a tree can not only keep it at a manageable and attractive shape, and direct the tree’s energy to producing flowers, fruit, or new foliage, but it can save the tree’s life. I back-washed the spa, and the water ran out into the grass and into the low-lying tree wells. I thought this a responsible use of water in an arid climate! But two hours later, a freak thunderstorm, with 90 minutes of lightning, gusty winds, and about a tenth-inch of rain, blew through the valley. When I looked out the window, my five year-old bauhinia orchid tree had bent over to the ground. This tree had large orchids blooming on its long, flexible branches, and earlier in the summer, had become top-heavy with growth. With the combination of soggy soil beneath, and windy down drafts, my tree was doomed.

After the storm, with the August sun steaming up the place, I took the long-handled pruner and cut off two-thirds of the tree branches, lightening the load for the trunk. Relieved of weight, the trunk began to stand a bit higher. With great effort, and much swatting of gnats, I drove a metal stake into the ground, and a neighbor pulled the heavy tree toward the stake so I could brace it with ties. My tree, although much altered in volume, is growing straight again. While we were bracing the tree, a pair of hummingbirds came boldly to drink the nectar of the remaining blossoms. Life goes on!

Happy the clean in heart — because they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 YLT

That beautiful tree, in its pruned, cathartic state, will remind me that in persecution or adversity, the Lord can still make a blessing from the enemy’s curse. And rather than bending toward the earth in defeat, the Gardener is pruning and strengthening so we can reach toward the heavens and there see God.

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