Monday, November 1, 2010


1: mode of building, construction, or organization; arrangement of parts, elements, or constituents

I learned on Sunday that allergen free incense still yields a quick headache, watery eyes and a sore throat for me in less than ten minutes (or should I say less than two hymns, which is about what I lasted?)  I also learned that I can still spend time with God in the arbor on a Sunday morning when the incense even from the narthex becomes too much.

As I sat on a bench, sipping coffee, I looked at trees in various stages of nakedness.  Some clung to their leaves, wearing coats of gold, orange and ruby.  Others had given up autumn's cloaks for the exposure of their limbs to winter.  All made visible something the trees of summer hide well - their structure, that which holds them up, holds them together and makes foliage itself possible.

In this way, trees are like us.  When we're saplings, we are all arms and legs, sprouting in every direction, with little thought to what form we will eventually take.  Like trees whose limbs shoot from them overnight, we go through our own spring amazed at all life has to offer.  My daughters have no idea whether they are sturdy oaks, long limbed pines or flowing willows.  (OK, they're unlikely to be long-limbed anything given their parentage, but you get my meaning.)  What they do know is that their job is to grow.  So they grow with abandon: trying new experiences, meeting new friends, learning new things.  The pruning that life brings they accept, sometimes with more grace than others.  (B has recently admitted that the only way she learns a lesson is the hard way - a difficult truth, but truth nonetheless.)

When spring gives way to fall, the growth slows a bit.  The flowers give way to leaves, their more sedate cousins.  And during summer, we hardly see trees for what they really are.  They're all green, all blending in to do their job - provide shade.  I think I'm in the summer of life now, much as I look forward to fall.  Because I feel like I'm all about my jobs right now - whether that's cooking, keeping our house orderly, schooling one child, raising three of them.  I blend in with all of the other women out there doing the very same things.  And I wonder how much you can see what I'm made of when I'm covered up with all of these leaves of responsibility.  Because in the summer of our lives, we're so very busy that there's little time for the glorious burst of color that fall brings, or the evidence that begins to show exactly what supports that big tall tree.

But if I don't take care during this busy summer season of my life to prune, to feed the parts that matter, to reach for the brightest light and not be satisfied with what trickles down to the undergrowth, if I don't do those things now, whatever will I look like come fall?  What structure will be left of me when I get to be me, instead of mom all the time?  When even K is off to college, what structure will hold me up?  I won't have the same day-to-day responsibilities then that I have now.  I'll theoretically have more time to be and have fewer demands on my time to do.

As I sat on that bench on Sunday, it occurred to me that I truly look forward to the autumn of my life.  I long for that riot of color, the shedding of things I don't need, the preparation for winter's rest.  But here I sit in the summer, when I should be bearing fruit or providing shade.  I don't want to wish away my time with my children or my husband.  I want to live in the moment and enjoy life right where I am.  So, like B, I'll continue to learn lessons (many the hard way) and I'll try to graciously submit to the necessary pruning so that when glimpses of my structure are seen, it will show the things that really matter - the Savior, not the sinner.

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