Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Putting down roots

Mile log: 564

Ben is currently planting our trees.

Hannah and I went a little garden crazy about a month ago, and bought a ton of flowers and plants, and two trees - a peach tree and a dogwood tree (shout out to our beloved South!). The flowers and plants are now in the ground, but the trees have remained in their pots by the shed, waiting pretty patiently for us to give them natural space to grow. The dogwood has been less patient, and the leaves have gotten kind of wilted.

Today is a beautiful blue-sky-75-degree kind of day in Fort Wayne, so Ben asked if he could plant our trees for us. Who is Ben? Ben is, in the words of Jo March, "Here for a brief interlude of sensational experience before succumbing to a matrimonial fate." In other words, he is living in the guys' house behind us this summer, serving as a "temp" in our ministry team, until he gets married in July. He is a good guy, and we enjoy having another brother in our community. And apparently he knows a bit about trees and landscaping...

"We thought we could just put them in the front yard, here... and here..." I waved to general spaces in front the house. Ben grabbed a shovel and a tree, and dutifully headed off to the designated spots, while I went inside to make a smoothie. About a minute later, Ben came in the back door and awkwardly and gently and respectfully as possible, told me that people don't normally plant fruit trees in the front yard. Oh really? And why? "They're just... not really front yard type of trees."

I have no problem admitting that I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to trees. I'm a romantic. So in my imagination, I am brilliant with plants... I sing to them and they grow. I sit beneath them and the foliage thickens. I plant them and their branches reach to the heavens and their roots dig deep to the center of the earth. That is how it works in my mind, which is a magical and terrifying place to dwell in. So when someone tells me that my trees should go somewhere else, it surprises me, but really doesn't surprise me. And I think I'm generally, more often than not, wise and humble enough to take this sort of criticism/advice/redirection. And I was in this case. "Ben, I trust your suggestions. Plant them wherever the Lord leads you to."

It seems that lately I've heard a lot of my friends talking about "putting down roots" - when and where to do it, how and how much and why... Maybe it's this time of life, but so many of us are getting over our youthful, transient, spontaneous lifestyle and are desiring more and more to be in one place and invest deeply there, whether it means buying a house, getting married, having a career... The struggle comes in wanting to also be flexible and Spirit-led, not restricting ourselves to things that could impede our ministry.

The Bible talks a lot about roots - being planted and grounded. In fact, this morning I read in Hosea 14: "Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon." Besides making me want to buy an olive tree (for my backyard, of course), this verse made me want to become like a cedar tree - so powerful and beautiful and solid and useful. But cedars don't grow in pots. It means I've got to trust the Master Gardener to take me out of the safety of the pot and place me where he wants me to grow - and he knows the best place for that. Of course, I think being rooted in His love and grace is the very best place to be. But as far as physical, relational, occupational location... well I've decided to trust him to pick the best corner of his yard for me, where I can thrive and grow the most.

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