The Grace Of the Pruning Saw

Remember all the biology classes you have ever taken? Remember how we came to understand how to distinguish living things from non-living things? (Forgive me. The third grade teacher in me is coming out.)

Living things move. Living things respire. Living things grow. Living things excrete.

In soul, in body and in mind we move; we respire; we grow and we excrete. There is within us an innate pressure to grow and expand throughout our lives. In the world we live in, Life and Death are entwined in a lascivious dance. Occasionally, parts of us die: beliefs shrivel; dreams shrink. Then again, we get “leggy”. We grow too much in the wrong direction.

That is when we need

vintage pruning saw.
vintage pruning saw.

the “grace of the pruning saw”. My pink hybrid tea rose, Rachael, was a vigorous producer. This ordinary,”Tiffany” cultivar from a Home Depot bare-root bush grew into a tall, queenly plant that I took several perfectly formed floral gifts from over the years. However, I discovered over the time that because she was such an eager producer, she would sprout new, weaker stems that grew progressively smaller and smaller flowers. She was spreading her energy to supply all those flowers. The following spring after this realization, I pruned the rose, carefully and purposely reducing the number of new branches. My hypothesis was that energy would go into making fewer, but individually stronger flowers. It worked. In the process I had to take off some winter-killed older canes (big, burly primary branches with thorns like spikes). I also had to decide which of some of the promising new branches to prevent from flowering.

It occurred to me that the same thing happens to us in many aspects of life.  Pruning the rose was all I needed to convince me that to periodically take stock of the direction of my growth and development in every area is a good idea. At specific times such as the anniversary of my arrival on earth, special commemoration days and the change of seasons I would pause to examine myself to see if I was “getting leggy” or producing thin, weak branches with small flowers–getting distracted by trivial obsessions–, or going off on spurious paths that led nowhere and sucked up inordinate amounts of energy.

 More often than not, I found on those occasions that my life was in a good position to receive the grace of the pruning saw and was confident that I would be stronger and more productive than ever.