I read a colleague’s blog the other day and thought it was too good not to share with you. As we near the end of Lent, his message was an important one. I will share excerpts. By the way, my friend’s name is Jack Keller.
“I grew up hearing the homespun adage, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. My mother must have heard it often, too, since my brown bag lunches all through elementary school almost always included an apple, usually a Red Delicious or Golden Delicious.”
“I worked for a couple of summers while I was in seminary in Wenatchee, Washington, which billed itself as the apple capital of the world. There were thousands of acres of orchards. The soil was just right, and the four season climate was perfect.”
“But perfect soil and perfect weather are not sufficient to grow perfect apples. Apple trees require careful and constant pruning in order to bear high quality, abundant fruit. If you don’t prune, all the tree’s energy will go into root, limb, and leaf growth, instead of into apples. Without pruning, an apple tree will grow spindly, unproductive branches. If you don’t prune, dead and diseased branches become a drain on the tree’s capacity to produce.”
“You can prune an apple tree anytime of the year without hurting it, though late winter, just before spring, is normally best. Successful pruning is not a once-and-for-all kind of thing. After an apple tree has matured and begun to produce fruit, it is on the newest branches that the most fruit is produced. The older branches produce less and need to be pruned. It is the SAME TREE over time. It has the same roots and the same trunk. But it is a different tree, a renewed tree, that is reshaped over time.
Jack points out quite correctly that pruning apple trees is a fitting metaphor for the task we face as Christians during the season of Lent. Is there something in your life that needs to be pruned? It isn’t too late to consider why you may feel your life has become stagnant, no new growth. Can you see and name the fruit in your life? Lent isn’t over--there’s still time. And don’t forget what Jack said: you can prune an apple tree anytime during the year and you won’t hurt it.