Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Don't Be Afraid of Pruning

photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens

“Don’t be afraid to prune these back to where you see new growth. They’ll come back better than ever,” Diane, the greenhouse supervisor told me. Although I know next to nothing about plants, I volunteered to help out in the greenhouse at The Lands at Hillside Farm, (where I regularly work in the Mercantile). Hence, my recent posts connected to gardening. J

I figured maybe I would learn something by volunteering—and I was right. I am learning plenty—though not all of it is about plants.

For the last few weeks I have been taking each of the perennials we sell at Hillside and pruning off dead leaves, stems, twigs, and drooping blossoms. Some only required a snip here and a pinch there to bring them back to optimum growing conditions. Others needed pruned back almost level with the soil before I found evidence of healthy growth. Several had over-extended themselves, necessitating a cut back so the plant could build stronger roots and stems for support. A few were dried up and wilted, spent for the season.

As I worked I realized that spiritually, I am like those plants. Sometimes I try to juggle too many things, over-extending myself, and nothing that I do receives my best. And other times, avenues that I have previously found helpful have become dead ends and now leave my spirit dry and thirsty.

These circumstances require pruning—like backing off from busyness, for even those things that appear to be spiritual in nature can become draining when I am doing, doing, doing; or curtailing activities that take me nowhere spiritually, such as over-used devotional routines or prayer practices that no longer provide a meaningful connection to Jesus.

How do we go about this kind of spiritual pruning? We let God do it during quiet times with Him. Joe Paprocki in 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness says, “Practice an extended period of private prayer, reflection, meditation, pondering, percolating—whatever you want to call it. But do something on a regular basis to engage in a conscious dialogue with your inner self and with God. If every waking moment is crowded with input and stimulation, your soul’s voice is being drowned out. You’ll eventually begin to experience spiritual numbness . . . a blasé feeling. Without prayer, you run the risk of avoiding issues that may lead you to self-destructive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Like dead-heading flowers or trimming spent branches, let’s cut back to where spiritual growth happens. Don’t be afraid! With the Master Gardener doing the pruning we’ll come back better than ever!

Jesus said, “[God] cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”—John 15:2

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams