book I: chapter 10

And he told them this parable: ‘There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9)

Pruning

So unkempt are the appetites,
Like wild shoots on the fruit tree:
Lush and fruitless — proud parasites
Sapping strength from humility.

The humble boughs, bent near the ground,
Bear the tree’s fruit abundantly.
Though leaves be sparse, their strength is found
In grace their roots tap constantly.

The Gardener, by way of night,
Prunes wayward growth with ax and saw;
The damage of insect and blight
Are healed — Mercy leaves nothing raw.

She yields her heart to Master’s blade;
Her wayward growth is pruned, not slayed.

May the Gardener prune our hearts with gentle patience and heal them completely in His mercy.

(c) Paul Buis, 2003