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Jul 16, 2021 242 Ellen Hogarty, USA
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Stay Pruned to Bloom More

This past year my life went through a shrinking, as did most people’s due to the restrictions and lockdowns from the pandemic. After several months of slowly getting used to that, another big change occurred when my elderly mother came to live with me, and I became her main caregiver. That entailed further shrinking of my life and activities. It was a shrinking within a shrinking, and it has not been without its challenges.  

Yet there is a deep peace and a joy in serving my aging mother, especially when I accept and embrace this new chapter in my life. 

We live through different seasons of our lives, and each season has its own challenges, crosses, joys and rhythms. Sometimes we suffer during a particular season because we resist what is being asked of us. We become angry and resentful. But if we believe God is with us using circumstances to shape, guide and love us, then the season we find ourselves in can become beautiful and filled with meaning and peace. 

Not that it is easy. Recently after a particularly challenging two weeks of health issues and doctor’s appointments for my mom, I was discouraged and exhausted. But during a conversation to which I was only half-listening I heard a friend talking about the rose bush outside the window. She said, “Keep cutting the roses as they come out. When you cut one, even more grow in its place.”

Those words reverberated through me. I thought of what Jesus said about pruning. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit” (John 15:1-2). I desire to live a fruitful life for the Lord. But that means there are things in me that need pruning—selfishness, impatience, lack of charity, etc. 

How is God going to prune us? Many times the pruning shears that the Lord uses are the specific circumstances in our lives. Those things that annoy us, prod us, or cause us to stretch beyond our personal comfort zone can actually be the sharp edge of the pruning knife. As it cuts, it makes way for new growth within us. 

I have learned that if I start resenting my current season and the demands it brings, I get grouchy and miserable. However, if I lean into the present moment and embrace what today holds, knowing that God is with me, a gentle, peaceful strength seeps in and my inner equilibrium is renewed. 

So after thinking about all of this, I pulled out a pair of pruning shears from my storage closet, went out to the rose bush and cut a rose. I put it on the table, and I am letting its lovely scent remind me that through every challenge and trial, the Lord can bring more fruit into my life. And perhaps I will be able to share that fruit with others who need it. 

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Ellen Hogarty

Ellen Hogarty is a spiritual director, writer and full-time missionary with the Lord’s Ranch Community in New Mexico. She blogs at cacklescorner.com.

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