Lenten Devotional 2021: Day 35

Tuesday, March 23 –  Sap … Nourishment for Life – By Dale Kucharczyk

Psalm 92:12-15 … the righteous flourish like the palm tree
Jonah 4:1-11 … is it right for you to be angry about the bush
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 … only God gives the growth
1 John 4:16-19 … God is love

I am so grateful for spring, especially this year when we walk through a very strange time where an unpredictable virus and a cloud of unknowing stir up fear everywhere. Spring never fails to bring forth new life, resurrecting hope – hope that has been frozen and forgotten or simply out of sight as our attention is focused elsewhere. I see evidence of God’s promises as the warmth of the sun causes the sap to rise reviving the tree after its winter rest. The warmth of longer days thaws the ground enabling dormant bulbs and plants to push through the earth sprouting shoots that reach up and roots that spread out. All this miraculous growth is nourished by an invisible force – God, whose sap of life makes things grow.

I see what happens when the flow of this life force is stopped. As I move about my garden, I notice how twigs and branches snap and buds wither when the source of nourishment is blocked. I wonder, does the same thing happen to me when I spend too much time away from the things that give me life? I don’t know about you, but when I allow myself to get caught up by too many news stories or messages that lead me down paths that are dark and ominous, fear takes hold and spreads like an unwelcomed weed in my garden. Some days I throw up my hands and complain about the invasiveness of the weed and how it is ruining everything. Other days, I take a deep breath, pause and turn for guidance to the One who created all things. I refocus to see the greening of the willows, the flowering of the magnolia, the daffodils that defy the cold and squirrels, and notice that a lot of those weeds are clumps of tiny, fragrant violets, while others do need to be dug out. Gardening books help me know what to leave and what to remove just as time with the Gardener helps me discern what hampers growth in me.

Weeks of Guided Prayer help me focus on God’s perfect love that casts our fear and curbs judgement so that my heart does not shrivel up with bitterness when things do not work out as I think they should. Time spent resting in the shade of God’s garden of words causes the sap in me to flow, keeping me green and nourishing me with hope.

For Reflection and Journaling:
1. What causes bitterness or resentment to creep into my thoughts?
2. How do I maintain hope?

Meditative Prayer:

Holy Gardener, thank you for the gifts of life and love.
Help me discern what hampers growth in me.
Keep me supple and green so that your sap can flow through me to others. Amen.

Week of Guided Prayer Network, Western Ontario Waterways Regional Council, The United Church of Canada, 2020.