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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jim Baldwin

Hunkered Down Homilies – Pruning

A rose bush that has been pruned

When ENan and I moved into our house in Wallace nearly 20 years ago, we inherited a rose garden from the previous owners.  The garden contains roses of various names, colors and sizes.  When they are blooming, they create a spectacular display of color just behind our back porch.

But roses are a lot of work.  They require soaker hoses for watering, fertilizer specially formulated for roses and periodic treatments to prevent leaf mold.  And then there is the constant battle to keep our local deer from chewing them to the ground! 

According to rose experts, this time of year is the most important time for roses.  In order for roses to have a productive blooming season, the old pine straw has to be raked away, fertilizer applied near the roots and fresh pine straw put out.  The most important preparation for spring, however, is pruning the roses.  The bushes have to be cut back pretty drastically in order for new growth to occur.  Most blooms come from new growth.

Honestly, it is painful to watch the branches being lopped off.  Sections that were filled with flowers last season fall to the ground, only to be hauled off to the woods.  The pruned bushes appear stunted and pitiful.  Sometimes after pruning I worry that we have killed them.  Every season, however, new branches form and begin to fill with leaves.  By Mother’s Day the roses will fill the yard with their beauty and fragrance.

Jesus spoke of pruning as a spiritual practice.  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  (John 15:1-2)  Jesus understood that there are parts of our lives that consume our time and energy but produce no spiritual fruit.  Even though cutting off some of those practices or relationships may be painful, the result is a healthier and more abundant life.

The season of Lent, leading up to Easter, is a time for self-examination.  It is a season for cutting off some unhealthy aspects of our daily practices or thought-patterns and fertilizing other areas so they remain healthy.  This allows our lives to flourish so that we reflect the beauty and fragrance of Christ. 

Like our roses.

Dr. Jim Baldwin

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