Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Tree Wisdom

I had an old neighbor named Doctor Gibbs when I was growing up. He didn't look like any doctor I'd ever known. Every time I saw him, he was wearing denim overalls and a straw hat, the front brim of which was green sunglass plastic. He smiled a lot, a smile that matched his hat - old and crinkly and well-worn. He never yelled at us for playing in his yard. I remember him as someone who was a lot nicer than circumstances warranted.

When Doctor Gibbs wasn't saving lives, he was planting trees. His house sat on ten acres, and his life goal was to make it a forest. The good doctor had some interesting theories concerning plant husbandry. He came from the "No pain, no gain" school of horticulture. He never watered his new trees, which flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

Once I asked why he said that watering plants spoiled them. He said that if you water them, each successive tree generation will grow weaker and weaker. So you have to make things rough for them and weed out the weenie trees early on. He talked about how watering trees made for shallow roots, and how trees that weren't watered had to grow deep roots in search of moisture. I took him to mean that deep roots were to be treasured.

So he never watered his trees. He'd plant an oak and, instead of watering every morning, he'd beat it with a rolled up newspaper. Smack! Slap! Pow! I asked him why he did that, and he said it was to get the tree's attention.

Doctor Gibbs died a couple years after I left home. Every now and again, I walk by his house and look at the trees that I'd watched him plant some twenty-five years ago. They're granite strong now -- big and robust. Those trees wake up in the morning and beat their chests and drink their coffee black.

I planted a couple trees a few years back. Carried water to them for a solid summer. Sprayed them. Prayed over them. The whole nine yards. Two years of coddling has resulted in trees that expect to be waited on hand and foot. Whenever a cold wind blows in, they tremble and chatter their branches.

Sissy trees.

Funny thing about those trees of Doctor Gibbs. Adversity and deprivation seemed to benefit them in ways comfort and ease never could.

Every night before I go to bed, I go check on my two sons. I stand over them and watch their little bodies, the rising and falling of life within. I often pray for them. Mostly I pray that their lives will be easy "Lord, spare them from hardship." But lately I've been thinking that it's time to change my prayer. Has to do with the inevitability of cold winds that hit us at the core. I know my children are going to encounter hardship, and my praying they won't is naive. There's always a cold wind blowing somewhere. So I'm changing my eventide prayer. Because life is tough, whether we want it to be or not. Instead, I'm going to pray that my sons' roots grow deep, so they can draw strength from the hidden sources of the eternal God.

Too many times we pray for ease, but that's a prayer seldom met. What we need to do is pray for roots that reach deep into the Eternal, so when the rains fall and the winds blow, we won't be swept asunder.

 - Author unknown

Lord, today we ask that you would help our roots grow deep!


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  1. So thought provoking Sue. Often I sense this question arise in my soul: "Why do you want an easy life?" I sometimes think that an easy life is a life that can be lived without prayer. So I amen your prayer this morning. Lord help our roots grow deep!

  2. I am voicing my "Amen!" as well.

    Not much I can add to what has already been said except a prayer request for one who is facing a ravaging storm. Please pray for my friend M. and her son J. who is facing possible prison time for an unproven allegation made by a selfish young girl.

  3. A very agreeable post, Amen too

    & I am in agreement with Dr. Gibbs tree wisdom....seen it happening to plants, shrubs -- they grow sturdy and strong...but they need water, a little amount,

    And as regards, prayers...I only pray that me and my dear and near ones get the strength to overcome things, not easiness with life -- as you said, it seldom works that way,

    But then roots growing deep...I would seek the roots grow deep to God...not, as attachment to our kith and kin -- Hope you understand, our Indian philosophies and scriptures call for a certain detachment, even as we care for others, and I think its gone deep into my thinking, good or bad,




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