Over the last weeks I have been busy
weeding, thinning, pruning and fertilizing our  yard.  
We ended up taking over 6 pick-up loads
to the “green-waste” facility on the Big Island.  
In Hawaii we have a lot of growth.  
I had neglected our yard for many months.

As I reflected over my life in the past seven years,
I came to realize that God has been at work
weeding, thinning, and pruning much of the growth
that has occurred in the last 25 years.  
Some of this has been uncomfortable!  
What I thought was “good growth”
the Lord has severed from my life.  
Areas that were not as productive He has cut-off.

And “Why?”—I have asked.  
     Pruning stimulates root growth.  
When unproductive branches of a tree
have been removed more energy is transferred into the root system,
revitalizing and bringing more nourishment to the plant.  
     Pruning allows more sunlight
and air circulation to the branches of a tree.  
Without adequate sunlight, the tree would wither.  
Pruning increases the eventual harvest.

However, when we are in the process of being pruned,
we imagine we will never be fruitful again.  
What usually happens is that our fruitfulness
becomes more vibrant, deeper, sweeter…
and are more easily accessible to the lives of others.  
We become more focused to where we direct our energy.

     In soul-work, especially after long periods of growth and blessing,
the Lord begins a process of pruning
which will reshape our relationships and our commitments.  
Areas of our life that might feel bloated,
where we have neglected to care for ourselves and our priorities,
where we have lost our grounding,
or neglected the weeds, mildew, or mold growing in our heart-garden—
will experience the grace of pruning.  

     Initially this shows up in the form of a depression.  
We might not notice the depression at the outset…
but it grows with more certainty and power
as we neglect our inner lives.  
Depression becomes a signal that something needs to be cut off
in order to make room for something new to grow.  
Depression is meant to get our attention.  
It helps us stay on the right track
and not veer off into meaningless activities.  
Depression helps us to stop and evaluate our lives…
possibly getting us to change direction.  
It is a way to help us slow down and conserve our energy…
helping us to make wiser choices.  

     So, we find this time of year reminding us
of an important aspect of soul:  
Pruning, root growth, weeding, forms of depression—
all meant to lead us to “good places.”   

The Holy Spirit not only cuts off branches
that bear no fruit but also branches that bear fruit.

“…He cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit while every branch that
does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…No branch can
bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  I am the Vine; you are the
branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart
from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:2, 4, 5).  

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