Last January, God showed me as a tree:
A towering shade tree, green leaves unfurled, branches hanging low.
I had picked the soil I thought I would flourish in, but he supplanted me to an open pasture and put down immovable roots beside a stream.
Here, birds are beginning to flock to my branches for refuge.
Chickadee. She lowers her core temperature to thrive in cold environments, congregating with those of her kind.
She stores her seeds and berries in a cache and calls, chickadee-dee-dee, to the other birds to feed them.
She is not shy to approach a human and eat out of his hands.
Chickadee, he called me. You eat your portion out of my hands and show the other birds where to get bread.
God showed me to a friend as a tree, but this time, “there is a limb growing out of you sideways.”
The limb is a necessary branch to the structure of the tree. It stems from my beliefs about God’s goodness. Rather, it stems from my unbelief about God’s goodness, because it’s growing out sideways.
It’s growing out sideways in the life I think I want to live–my own methods, my own definitions of what is good. I have to send all my nutrients to keep the limb alive, because the Gardener is not going to cultivate a dying branch.
The rest of my tree is suffering because of it. My leaves are wilting and thinning, my branches no longer strong enough to support the nesting birds.
“He wants to prune back, or break off, the limb,” she says, and I’m imagining him grafting the limb into the structure of the tree where it will receive the nutrients of the earth instead of my own effort.
I feel the breaking-off like the snapping of a bone. I feel the grafting of the limb like the resetting of a bone, followed by the slow, slung process of reforming.
If the tree is the integrity of my heart–that secret place where I join the honesty of myself with God–then I have come home where I was walking out on a limb.
excerpt from a yellow Legal pad
February 15, 2017
Unless a grain falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit, and your death among the snows of winter buried a seed that has grown into a mighty tree.
He supplanted you in your crystallized desire, broke you off like a dry branch and grafted you back in, to a tree planted by streams of water, for his namesake, for your joy.
Dance, oh feet, upon the muddy pasture! The ground is plowed and ready for planting. Participate in the sowing, so you may reap a harvest.
This morning I woke to the beckoning of a chickadee in the tree outside my house.
It reminded me of the word God whispered to me, the same January morning he showed me my tree: mercy like birdsong.