On my way in to work each morning I pull up to an intersection that causes me to face a line of not so very old trees. These trees were carefully planted a number of years ago and are nicely spaced so as to have plenty of room to grow without interference from neighboring trees. The one that is almost straight ahead is a beautifully shaped specimen — even, symmetrical, tall. Not constrained by other trees.
How unlike the trees in my backyard. The ones I planted from little seedlings and saplings. The white oaks that are too close together because each was an acorn with a leaf attached when planted. And planted a bit close because I wasn’t sure which, if any would survive and also because I didn’t have the vision to see the full grown tree. Same for the maples. And then, there is the McDonald’s pine tree brought home by a thrilled 3 year old and planted in a random spot.
My backyard trees are more like my life: They are lopsided because they crowd each other. They fight for the sunlight and the water and the nutrients. They form a solid cover over part of the yard. If one is removed, it is obvious that something has been taken away and it will take years to fill in the gap. Just like my life. All crammed in with people I love and ideas and responsibilities. When one of these is removed it’s pretty obvious. And it takes time to adapt and fill in the gap.
I’m not that perfect, symmetrical tree at the end of the street. I’m not an island. Some days, I wish I was. But, for today, I think it’s ok to be shaped by those around me — just as long as I can get enough sunlight and water and nutrients to hold up my spot.
I was a teenager in the late 60’s and early 70’s… last of a generation who’s world view was heavily colored by the Viet Nam war and the draft. The guys in my class were the last to face the draft lottery knowing that a low number really meant they were going.
One afternoon, I was riding in the car with my mother… a very proper, lovely woman (OK, as a teenager, maybe I didn’t see that so well); The radio is playing Crosby, Stills and Nash. The words floated through the air and Mama caught them. I still remember her thoughtful comment — “That’s good advice: If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
I’m not sure her vision of that was the same as the singers’. But she had a point and it comes to me at various times. There are those that I have a strong connection with, that I love. They live elsewhere. They may indeed love me in return. But, the fact remains that they have a life there and I have one here. So, it becomes my call to “love the one(s) I with.”
I think Jesus did just that — that he is my example. The gospels seem to indicate that he had those that he loved and cared about as any human does. Mary, Martha, Lazarus, John… and yet, in all the stories we see a man who was present in the moment. He was approached by a leper – he loved the one he was with. He felt a woman touch his hem — he stopped, and loved the one he was with. He was present for those he was with at the time.
Not always easy to do — but well worth trying to do.
Throughout the Easter Season I’ve been following the Acts of the Apostles as they begin to spread the Word. It strikes me as a book detailing how these new Christians learned what they should do now that they were new Beings. They are sharing what they have seen, but the road isn’t so clear. They argue amongst themselves as each one begins to see a piece of the story. But with prayer, they resolve a lot of the issues.
Not a bad model for right now.
I’m involved in some tense, intense discussions about the directions for a website I work on. There are 4 parties in the discussion right now, each with a different view on how things work, what works, what should work and how to get things to work better. We all have somewhat different visions of what the site is or what we want it to be. Some are more different than others.
As we sort through this whole thing, I’ve had to do a lot of reflecting on my role and how I see the others. There have been times when I’ve found myself muttering “Lord, you better show yourself more clearly because I really can’t see you in X right now.” There is the “examination of self” to try to keep straight where something really matters and where my views are heavily colored by a turf war. There is the struggle to stay with it and not just blow off another person’s opinion in frustration. There has been the comfort of discovering that some parts of my vision are shared by one or more of the group.
We’ll continue to study the whole issue, I’m sure. We’ll continue to discuss it and learn from it. We’ll continue to look at the numbers and the patterns. We’ll learn more about what we are doing and why.
And, I pray that we will be able to act accordingly. Take a step. Move on. And proclaim our message.
If we begin with prayer and follow through, the road may be rough, but I believe that it will definitely move us in the right directly… Just like this Journey to myself.