When I was growing up in upstate New York in the late 50’s and 60’s, we did a lot of migrant work on farms. During the summer and fall we’d pick various fruits and vegetables and in the winter we’d trim trees. We sat a ladder on the tree, climbed up with a saw, and cut off all the limbs that were growing in the wrong direction. It was always freezing cold and the days were long. It also wasn’t the most pleasant way to spend your weekends, yet that’s what we all did. The entire family worked and we did whatever work we could find and we worked together. Most saw it as menial labor and often we were kidded and looked down on, but as my dad always said, “It’s an honest living.”
Today as I was thinking about why we are forced to face so many challenges in life, I reflected back on my childhood experience of trimming trees. I thought about the life of a tree. Through this personification I got a totally new perspective about why I should view life’s natural changes not as challenges, but instead as new growth opportunities. For surely if the fruit tree never sacrificed her harvest and was unwilling to be stripped of her leaves and pruned, she would never see a new harvest that was more abundant than the one before.
A Harvest or Letting Go Is Necessary
In the summer the branches of the trees were abundantly filled with fruits. The tree was as a mother giving birth. We’d come and take the harvest that she’d created. Although the trees looked picture perfect with their fruit, if we didn’t pick the fruit in time, they’d rot on the trees. Others would drop off by themselves giving back to the earth that gave it life without asking. In the life of a fruit tree a harvest and a letting go is necessary. In the life of a human letting go is also necessary.
It appears that planting seeds of faith, fertilizing and protecting them, harvesting our fruits (dreams, goals, vision, ideas, service, calling, talents, and relationships), and then being willing to let go when it’s time is the natural order of life. I reflected on how many of my new dreams would have gone unrealized if I had not had been willing to let go of the past or detach myself from the way things were. Ecclesiastes 3 sums it up. (Continue to part 2)
3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.