I spent a couple hours pruning trees and bushes on our property recently (contrary to true agrarian sabbath practice). I had forgotten how much God speaks to me through gardening and how much this type of work renews my mind and spirit.
Pruning is always hard for me – in my gardening and in my daily life. Something doesn’t feel right about cutting off pieces of a plant, and it feels so wasteful dragging piles of limbs and branches to the waste pick-up pile. But it is exactly what the plants need. John 15: 2 says, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” I sometimes find entire branches that are dead, and their removal increases oxygen flow. I sometimes find branches that are growing into the space another branch needs to grow and develop. Leaving both branches will cause neither to flourish. I sometimes clip branches growing in the wrong direction, taking nutrients from a tree’s main trunk that are needed further up in the tree.
A lot of pruning has been going on in my own life as well, some things intentional and some things unintentional. Of course, the obvious is choosing to step out of the day-to-day leadership of the school so that I can breathe, reflect, and restore my energy. There have also been activities and relationships that I thought I would dive back into and find nourishing but instead found out there were reasons I didn’t prioritize some of those things over the past several years. I find myself letting go of certain things indefinitely, even beautiful branches that hurt to eliminate, because they are not life-giving and are not a good fit for me. I also reflect on the process of letting go of branches or relationships that had died and needed to go in order not to kill the whole plant. This has been and still is a painful process of self-reflection, intentional pausing, and soul-searching.
Pruning is a painful process that restores life and health, and I am still in the midst of learning sorting this all out. One thing I know, tending to my little plot of land helps me reflect and feeds my soul. I guess I won’t be pruning that out anytime soon!