I thought our apple tree was dying. It's a new addition to our barren backyard (Note to self: Write landscaping into any future mortgage!) and a significant financial investment, not to mention a labor of love on behalf of our Mormon friends (an interesting story to be told another day). Our soil is thick with clay and stones so I've been having a minor internal panic attack that we didn't properly prepare the dirt and that the poor thing wasn't able to really get her roots down deep before the kill of winter set in.
When I went out to examine her branches yesterday, I felt certain that they were too stiff; too brittle. Checking the soil around her trunk, I realized (too late?) that it was desert-dry despite our recent spring snow flurries.
I've been feeling a little dry, a little spent myself of late. Winter takes it's toll on our psyche as well as our physiology. It exacts payment spiritually, too. The dusty brown and concrete gray settled between snowfalls and spring rain is a grim testimony to faith that needs earth-soaking moisture, turned soil, and a good weed whacking.
I mentioned to my Lord that I was feeling a bit like those brittle branches. Empty. Thirsty. I don't really have anything to add to my prayers for my friends, my neighbors, my loved ones. I need new language to properly exalt Him because my own feels crusty and over-used, like the rock-hard gray layer of tired earth that blankets my flower beds.
A friend recently expressed her concern over our lack of church community, suggesting that without it we would could not be properly "filled up" or refreshed. I've given her worries a great deal of thought as we continue on our away-from-church course. There is something to be said for Christian community: in it's healthiest form, it really does kindle hope and provide spiritual nourishment.
I consider, however, the "church" we have experienced outside of a Sunday morning service. I recognize that the refreshing, refilling, rejuvenating place in my own life, the real worship service in my everyday, has been in momentous conversation with friends.
A prayer, between gal-pals, thoughts turned to Jesus, turns tired soil, preparing it for nutrients. A good gab with a friend ~ about the mysteries of God, the wonders of God ~ is like slow-falling clear water on parched earth. A give-and-take over this bit of Scripture and that sound counsel seeds ready soil, promising fruit and beauty and more to give. The faithful, faithful wounds of a friend act as surely as any chemical to see wrong and shame on their way.
This afternoon I cranked the outside taps on to full-blast and soaked our tree with fresh water. I was wrong, you know. She wasn't dying after all. She was just thirsty. A good soak and her tiny, strengthening branches limbered up right away. A little one-on-one with a friend, and all was right again.