Two Pear Trees (Or, “Out on a Limb”)

You should have seen the 2 trees in our side yard. When I bought them I was told they were good trees for a small yard. Yes, well, good for maybe 5 years. We’ve gone about 9 years and they are enormous. Until today they reached high above our 2-story house and had an un-neighborly reach into our neighbor’s side walk way. Winds would announce our neglect by banging the branches against their house. I know – that’s just rude.

We’d lop off a branch here and there but it was an inadequate attempt to fight a dragon with a kid’s play sword. So a couple of weeks ago we tried to lop off more than a few branches and ended up with sore necks and the realization that to stop the trees from hitting our house and our neighbors house was going to take hitting our bank account.

The arborist gave us two choices. The practical, save us in the long run choice of removing the trees; and the sentimental, buy us a couple more years option of cutting them way back and topping them way down. We weren’t up to parting with them yet so we made the sentimental choice.

The arborist and his team came early this morning. You should see the 2 trees in our side yard now. They can’t really be the same trees. They’re kind of pathetic. So is there a lesson to learn about letting go and moving on? Or is the lesson that sometimes you’ve got to change your expectations?

The arborist goes with the former and says we’ll be shocked next year when we see how much they grow back.   He’s the expert so when it comes to trees I should concede. However, I think I’ll go with the latter since that fits our choice, and after shelling out the bucks I need a little optimism here!

We all have expectations. Whether we’re a type A, who plans short and long term goals, or a go-with-the-flow type C, our surprise about the way the wind blows in our lives is proof that we all have expectations.

My fruitless pears are delightful, deciduous trees that let me experience autumn in spite of living in Southern California. I expected they would be my ode to seasons. Bare in the winter, richly green and shade giving in the spring and summer and colorful in the fall. All of that has been true (weather permitting). I did not expect them to be overpowering, neighbor offending and expensive. I didn’t even give a thought to how the wind would effect them. I expected I’d have to maintain them as they grew. I did not expect they’d grow beyond the ability to maintain in our little yard and I would one day have to give them up.

My false expectations have proven to go far beyond my relationships with trees. Life is not a series of neat decisions of what relationships I choose to enter into. Relationships are not neat, controllable and guaranteed for a lifetime. I’m not comfortable with this truth. The Holy Spirit has been kindly telling me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The Holy Spirit is compared to wind. You don’t know what direction he’s coming from but you hear him and you know his power. We just couldn’t ignore what the wind was doing to our trees. I don’t want to ignore what the Holy Spirit is doing in my relationships.

Excuse me as I beat this metaphor with every limb. I want to listen for the Holy Spirit and allow him to move me, in and through and out of relationships. My false expectations can cause an offensive, perhaps dangerous, break or some unwanted shade at a great cost. It’s a good thing to delight in the different seasons. It’s madness to want to control them.

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