Sunday, March 11, 2007

Clipped and Manured

“I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it.” (Luke 13:9) So the gardener says in the parable of the fig tree which bore no fruit. In plants, growth is often stimulated by things which might seem contrary: cutting them back, and surrounding them with smelly waste products. In our life of conversion, the same thing is often true. The things that seem to cut us up, to take away what we think is vital, are what God uses to help us to grow beyond what we can imagine, like roses which are cut back drastically to help them blossom in an amazing way.
So Francis discovered in his life. It was at moment’s of pain—the expression of his father’s anger and greed, being thrown into a ditch by robbers—that he found out more clearly who he was, who God called him to be. Even when he was surrounded by the manure of his own and his brothers’ weaknesses, he found deeper growth.
I think Francis had to learn this in his life, and it was this truth he wanted to share: the goodness of God is found even in garden shears and piles of manure! God is good, all good, ever good, the supreme good, who will not force us to grow, but rather invites us, again and again. We ask the strength to choose him, to become fig trees that do what they were made to do: bear figs.
Peace and Good!

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