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You Are Pruned

Exodus 15: 22- 16:10

(From 15: 26) “…...because I am Adonai your healer.”

1 Peter 2: 1- 10

(From 2: 9) “Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

John 15: 1- 11

Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned.

Many times, in doing this practice of Lectio Divina I find that the readings serve to simply remind me of something that I already know. My inner response is then, “Oh yeah, right…. I knew that.” That’s what happened today with the phrase from the Old Testament reading, “I am Adonai your healer.” I have often experienced relief, comfort, and what can only be described as ‘spiritual repair’ in the course of my contemplative practice. I think it’s fair to describe that as “healing.” That recognition reinforces my trust that I will indeed continue to receive such relief and comfort when I am in pain, and it encourages me in my understanding that the One in Whom I live and move and have my being is the Source of that healing.

The reading from Peter made me remember a pivotal memory from my adolescence. I think I was about 15 years old, and I had a conversation with my mother in which I said that what I wanted to do with my life was “to praise God.” The odd thing was that I was not a Christian at the time. It wasn’t until nearly 15 years later that I had the experience that led to my conversion and baptism in the Episcopal church. Nevertheless, I knew then, and I know now, exactly what I meant. Even at 15, I knew how important is that inner movement which responds to beauty, poignancy, and wonder with reciprocal delight and a deep sense of affinity and kinship. What I was trying to express was my understanding that there is nothing more important than that response; the response that even at fifteen I knew to call by the name of “praise.” What I was trying to explain to my mother was that I wanted my entire life to be shaped by that response and I wanted that same response to form the whole context of my being, and for it to determine the essential value of my character. I still want that, nearly 50 years later.

The phrase from the Gospel reading, “you are pruned,” provoked a wry smile. I definitely feel as though I’ve been pruned!  The raw twig-ends are still weeping sap, and the absent branches are letting too much light in.

Aching and squinting; still unhealed;

 at the moment I’m just not convinced that all this pruning was a good idea.

But this morning bright clouds draped themselves kindly over gray mountains,

and called me to walk out and turn my face to the astounding, uninvited light.

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