Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gardening With Barry

Monday is my day off. Usually Susan and I spend the day together—in the morning we’ll work around our home or in the garden (we often have one or more grandchildren with us), then in the afternoon, we go for a ride somewhere fun.

Today, I spent the whole day in the garden. We just returned from vacation and before that we’d had a lot of rain, so I really haven’t had a chance to get ready for our new spring flowers. While I was mowing the lawn, I got an idea. My ideas usually have a time and energy element to them. I decided that every Monday, I’d write on this blog a short lesson that I learned from the garden. After a couple of years of doing this I’ll have the beginnings of a great devotional book.

Among the dozens of thoughts which occurred to me today, was one concerning parenting. In our front yard, we have a circular garden which sits as a focal point. In the midst of the colour of flowers we have always had a tree planted. In the beginning it was a crabapple tree which flowered beautifully for a short season in the spring. After that tree grew unshapely, I removed it and replaced it with a decorative maple. We live on Vinemaple Place, so I thought the maple would be appropriate. Over the last couple of years, as I’ve pruned the tree, I’ve realized that I’d damaged the decorative part of the hybrid, so it reverted back to a large maple like you’d find in the forest. It wasn’t the look I wanted, so I cut it down and removed it today.

I’ve often used the willow tree as an illustration of fruitfulness, persistence and grace, so I decided to plant one that I had nurtured from the time it was simply a cut-off twig. It’s still young and spindly, but it has great potential. I hammered a one inch stave in beside it and secured the sapling to the stick.

Looking at my baby willow, so full of life and potential, and yet so fragile that it had to be supported. I thought about parenting. We parents are not the root or the trunk of the tree. We are the steady, straight stave that gives strength and support to a young tree. The stick gives the sapling the stability it needs until, but only until, its own trunk is strong enough to support it. If the stave and string hang on too long, they actually wound the young tree as it grows. The string or wire used to bind it to the upright stick gets entwined into the tree. The application is obvious when we see adult children who are too tightly wrapped up in their parents care.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.


Note: In case you were wondering, the home above is Waddeston Manor in Aylesbury, England.

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