Activated - - NEWS - By Joyce Sut­tin Joyce Sut­tin is a re­tired teacher and writer and lives in San An­to­nio, USA.

The tree trim­mers fi­nally showed up. I’d been ner­vously wait­ing for them, both look­ing for­ward to them prun­ing my trees and also ter­ri­fied of what the out­come might be. I’d known for a long time that the trees needed to be trimmed, but a part of me loved the wild “jun­gle” growth, and I’d waited way too long be­fore call­ing them.

They ar­rived this morn­ing, and I had to keep my­self from con­stantly run­ning out­side and telling them how to do their job. I’ve seen other trim­mers be­fore. I’ve seen the ugly dev­as­ta­tion of hacked-off trees where they had taken a chain­saw and cut the large branches, leav­ing not much more than an an­gu­lar trunk that takes years to re­gain its beauty.

But each time I looked out this morn­ing, I was pleas­antly sur­prised. I watched them take off the small branches that had grown along the far edges of the tree. Then they used the chain­saw to cut off a cou­ple of the larger branches, but only those that were no longer healthy. They worked all morn­ing on one tree, like care­ful sur­geons ex­tri­cat­ing the can­cer that was sap­ping strength from it.

It’s a lit­tle like the work of the heart. It’s ter­ri­fy­ing to ad­mit fault, to re­al­ize that deep changes some­times need to take place. It takes courage to use a saw on the branches of our per­sonal prob­lems and to be­gin cut­ting. It takes faith to ask God to cut away those things we have to let go of that are hin­der­ing our growth, spir­i­tual health, and hap­pi­ness. It’s a painful process, hear­ing the buzz of the prover­bial chain­saw, and my heart aches.

It’s dur­ing these times of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, of open­ing up and fac­ing our weak­nesses, that we need to be care­ful not to just be­gin hack­ing off ev­ery­thing about us, zeal­ously chop­ping away and de­stroy­ing even those things that are healthy and beau­ti­ful.

That’s when we need the gen­tle hands of the sur­geon, who is care­ful not to de­stroy the healthy parts of the body as he op­er­ates. We need the pa­tient hands of the tree trim­mers like those I hired to­day, tak­ing time to cut only the branches that are over­grown or dead and dan­ger­ous, and leav­ing the large, beau­ti­ful branches that will pro­vide shade in the sum­mer­time. This pa­tient, care­ful prun­ing en­ables the tree to come back to life in spring, stronger in its in­di­vid­u­al­ity and love­lier and more vi­brant than ever.

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