Monday, May 4, 2015

The Limb

Pecan trees dominate the landscape around our house.  This means that the late fall is spent picking up pecans off the ground and getting them to market.  But, the thing for which I really wish from time to time is a "limb market."  A year round chore is picking up limbs on the ground.  Some are big, but most are of the smaller variety.  If only all those trailer loads of limbs and broken branches could be sold, but alas, such is not going to happen.  Reality around here is never being able to walk around without seeing a limb which needs to be picked up.  Work.
However, something I recently read from "An Altar in the World" has changed my perspective.  In a section of the book about seeing ordinary things as things to bless, Barbara Brown Taylor writes, "Start with something like a stick.  Even a stick lying on the ground will do.  The first thing you do is to pay attention to it.  Did you make the stick?  No, you did not.  The stick has its own story...Is it on the ground because it is old or because it suffered mishap?  Has it been lying there a long time or did it just land?...If you look at the stick long enough, you are bound to begin making it a character in your own story...What purpose did this stick serve?  Did a bird sit on it?  Did it bear leaves that sheltered the ground from the hottest summer heat?  At the very least, it participated in the deep mystery of drawing water from the ground, defying the law of gravity to deliver moisture to its leaves...This is no less than an artery of a tree that you are holding in your hand...Put it back where you found it and it will turn back into earth again.  Dust to dust and ashes to ashes."
I can no longer walk around and see a limb on the ground and not see myself.  As surely as the ashes of Ash Wednesday remind me of my mortality, so do all these limbs on the ground.  I walk about changed.  I walk about blessing these limbs and thanking God for the way I am reminded each day to live today as if tomorrow might not be.