I have a new tree in my backyard. It has multiple fruits grafted onto it, including plums, apricots, peaches and one other stone fruit that I have forgotten, perhaps nectarines, all selected for their ability to self-pollinate and grow in our warmer climate. We’ll see if this works. I was told that if the major trunk comes to dominate on the tree, the other varieties will die off, so I have to prune it carefully. After it was planted, it was clear that two of the varieties had begun to dominate in growth already. I have no idea, which ones yet, as the tree came without leaf or fruit on it. So, I read everything I could find on the internet on pruning this tree correctly, and watched YouTube videos on the subject, both done in Australia, curiously. With trepidation, I took pruners in hand and did my best to restore some balance, and prepare the tree for spring growth. I admit that I am fearful that I cut off too much.
Within just the last couple of days of my writing this, though, the first white blossoms have opened on some of the branches. I’m getting hopeful that there might be fruit in my future. Again, we’ll see, but it’s hopeful.
And that is the point of my story. You do your best, and then you hope.
You try, and try hard, and then you hope.
You fail, even, and you pick yourself back up, and you continue to hope.
You’ve all made the best health choices you could in these last two difficult years. We’ve all had our hopes disappointed with ongoing waves and total and partial shutdowns. And yet there are signs, early and yet still hopeful signs, with falling infections rates, easier symptoms, fewer hospitalizations, etc. Perhaps this time things will work out.
Might there be reason to hope?
we were to recycle right back into a new wave of infections, perhaps pi, or rho, or sigma? Both Delta and Omicron were surprises. It could happen, dear Lord forfend! What would we do? We’d hope for the future, and carry on.
On the other hand, this could be the beginning of something better, even if not entirely as things were before, but much more open and less constrained. Truth to tell, none of us know. But we have dealt with hard times, and we have endured. We have had losses, real and painful, but we have survived. In essence, like my fruit tree, we’ve been pruned. There could be hard times ahead, but we are hardened. We aren’t weak. We can do this. We can hope.
I encourage you, in light of today’s Gospel, that we need to bear fruit under both good and bad circumstances. Whatever happens, please do not become disheartened. Be a person of faith and hope. As 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”