For me, this Lent has been marked by trees. I’ve long looked to trees for wisdom about how the seasons shift and change, and the ways in which trees provide shelter and care for God’s creatures. There are numerous examples in the scriptures about trees, from the first chapters of Genesis through the Prophets and the Psalms to the Gospels. God loves a good metaphor and trees are uniquely suited to them – the growth and steadiness, the planting, the fruit-bearing, the wood of both the manger and the cross, and in the case of Zacchaeus in the mulberry tree, the climbing.
I’ve always wanted to bear good fruit, and when I read the words of Jeremiah about a tree planted by the water about a week ago, they resonated. Like a good tree, I want to be continually green and useful. I want to bear fruit in every season. I want to grow and be a shelter for others.
But something about this Lent is bringing me back to the reality that I can do nothing, literally nothing, without Christ-living-in-me. After all, a tree can’t plant itself, nor can she choose where she is planted. A tree can’t even choose a variety of fruit or produce literally any fruit on her own. The only job of a tree is to send out its roots by the stream and allow the water to flow. In time, that stretching will yield health for the tree and the potential of fruit that might one day benefit someone else, but a tree has no control over that.
So often in my life, I get impatient. I think I’m behind, and not yielding enough fruit, when the truth is that bearing fruit is not even my job. It’s what God does through me, if I am open to the life-giving water He wants to provide.
Jesus said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we could tell a mulberry tree to uproot and plant itself in the sea, and it would, but this Lent I’ve been reminded of the beauty of the place in which I am planted, just as I am. It’s good and green here, and the water is so mercifully close by. And in this time between winter and spring, as the snowflakes still fall and the wind still howls outside my window, I’m finding much needed peace in much-needed rest in this good place where God has planted me. Gosh, He is so kind.
Though there’s snow on the ground, I know spring is coming, and with it, new life, and if God is going to bear fruit through me in that season that is my very favorite one, this Lent is a necessary time of spiritual rest and recovery and I’m glad of it today. Lent, like everything, is right on time.
Prayer: Good and loving God, Your will be done. Help me to receive the life-giving water you want to give me, for my good and for growth and blooming in the season to come. Restore us, Lord, and remind us of your care.
In the name of Jesus and wrapped in the mantle of Our Mother, Mary, amen.