As a parish pastor I have found that in order to grow in Christ and to be refreshed with God’s grace I need to go deeper in prayer, which Martin Luther referred to as “a sacrament, for it has both God’s command and very many promises” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIII). I am sharing with you in this issue of Let’s Talk, a page from my journal, because as I reflect upon life and listen carefully, I hear and see God’s extraordinary presence in my ordinary life.
There stands before my eyes on a bleak February night; a silver maple, barren, seemingly lifeless, but with its branches, like arms lifted up to the sky.
The tree has been here long before me and will continue long after I am gone, because the tree roots are deep and the spread of the tree is great.
I focus upon the tree as a sign of life—inwardly —even though outwardly there is barrenness. The tree’s roots are deep into the soil of the place it was planted.
The winds blow this cold night and the tree stands firmly in the season of winter, waiting for Spring to come and for new life to emerge.
Ignatius of Loyola spoke of “finding God in all things.”
Tonight amidst this Lenten landscape, I seek to know God and to do God’s will. It is as though I pray that my inner and outer life be in harmony with God’s will, just as this tree lives out its cycles of life amidst the changing seasons in harmony with God’s creative powers. And yet I ask myself…
How deep are the roots of my faith and heritage of my ministry?
Am I “finding God in all things” even the ordinary of life’s creation?
When have I taken time to focus and to center myself, even on a tree in a church courtyard on a bleak winter’s night?
To meditate on the tree is much like meditating on the word of God, as the psalmist writes:
“and on his law they meditate day and night, they are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper” (Psalm 1:2b-3).