‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. John 15:1-2
With spring at last in the air, a gardener’s thoughts often turn to pruning. Pruning is an important part of gardening, and there is great debate on how and when to prune any particular plant. In earlier days I supplemented my income by working as a pruner. I became able to see the lines of the branches and gained confidence in the cutting, though part of my heart leaned toward untamed growth.
In pondering pruning, I conclude:
- 1) there are two types of pruning, intentional and acts of nature; and
- 2) I do not like to be pruned.
Intentional pruning by a careful vine-dresser or gardener is what Jesus is talking about. God’s wish for us is excellent, plentiful fruit and healthy growth. This is good for the plant, but more importantly is good for the entire community of flora and fauna who depend on fruit for nourishment. Pruning yields a flourishing community.
Pruning through acts of nature, wind storms, driving rains, and major snowfalls, severely damages or even kills the plants. Branches cover lawns and roots, and some trees and shrubs lose their grounding with roots now exposed to the air.
Sometimes careful additional pruning rescues the plant and nurtures new life. Other times that new life comes from damaged plants becoming compost, assisting in the growth of other plants. Pruning yields a flourishing community.
Plant life is central to a thriving earth and thriving Life writ large. So, too, are our lives, as we live to encourage the fruit of the divine spark within us. Pruning is no fun; no one, and most likely, no plant, enjoys being pruned. The cutting away hurts and new growth is uncomfortable at first. Growing pains are real.
Whether we are pruned by the Spirit helping us to live in humility and love, or pruned by act of nature, such as illness, loss, and global change, Jesus calls us to trust in the pruning. If we are to bear fruit, it helps to have reminders the entirety of the world does not depend on each one alone nor are we without fault. It is a gift to have others point out our blind spots and our need for strong approval. Abide in Jesus.
In illness, loss and change, the question is not, “Why me?” but rather how might this make me more loving, engaged with the world, and joyful. Our lives are gifts to this world and others. We are called to pour out ourselves and not hold on to what seems the security of our little selves. Abide in Jesus.
I do not like to pruned. It hurts before it deepens my love for others and for God. I like my little life and am not ready to become compost or to accept my own finitude and limits. Yet, after a good pruning, the peace that passes understanding, and the joy that can hold all the sorrow of the world become to take hold within me. As I abide in Jesus by allowing my heart to draw closer to his and a love that knows no bounds, I see more and more a connection with all creation and find a true source of security.
May we all rejoice in the pruning and trust in the great Gardener. May we each offer ourselves to the flourishing of community and all creation.
With every blessing,