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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Don't like? Don't want it? Get rid of it! Or not.




"Does something have value only because it's useful?"

This question pries itself into my not-yet-awake mind as I sit on our deck, watching a Spring morning come to life.

It's a riot of activity, and colors, and smells...my senses are on overload...

Nearby, a Chickadee is singing its heart out, hoping to attract a willing mate.

In the front garden a Thrush is joyously sending up sprays of water from a birdbath, popping its head up once in a while to see if the other birds are jealous.

Screams from a soaring Red-Tailed Hawk above, and a Barred Owl in the woods behind, silence all activity for a moment.

You could hear a pine needle drop.

Until all is deemed safe, and the feeding and mating and joyous ruckus continues.

This is my favorite way to begin my day...

With the help of a robust cup of coffee, my senses are wooed to life...

And the thoughts and questions begin to ramble through my mind.

And that's how the "usefulness" question started...

I was watching a Chickadee hop down the branches of the Persimmon tree next to the deck, heading for the weathered birdhouse hanging from the lowest branch.

Many years ago we had planted that Persimmon tree in high hopes and expectations...and with an ulterior motive...

That someday it would produce succulent fruit that would lure birds in for our viewing pleasure.

At least that is what is was supposed to do...



For years we watched it grow...believing that any time now it would do its thing.

But it never did.

In desperation, I took a flowering branch to a local Botanist who informed us that it was a male, and would never bear the desired fruit...

It was destined to spend the rest of its life as another Plain Jane tree, one of hundreds in our yard.

Because of this, every Spring, Ted and I have had the same ongoing argument...er, discussion...debating the value of its life.

He wants to cut it down, saying if it's not doing what it's supposed to do then it serves no purpose and needs to go.

Me, however, I stand like the Rock of Gibraltar, defending its values, thinking I'll chain myself to it if necessary.

Sure it's not doing what we thought it would, but look at all it does do....

It is noble and of a lovely shape.

It provides a resting place for the birds to perch in as they await their turns at our feeders.

It can support many birdhouses with its strong branches.

It provides flowers and nectar for the honeybees in the Spring.

Every year I defended that tree against Ted and his crazy obsession with the chainsaw.

This year we called a truce, and he has agreed to let the tree stay...probably because his sleeping in the guest room for the rest of the year was not appealing. Just kidding.

So, as I'm sitting there admiring the lime-green buds popping out on the Persimmon tree,

The question pries its way into my consciousness....

"Does something have value only because it's useful?"

Whoa, deep thought for this early in the day!

Then I realize...maybe I wasn't thinking about the tree at all...

For I don't only sit on the deck in the early morning hours to enjoy God's creation, but to pray.

So maybe it wasn't me asking myself that question, but God.

You see, recently I have been thinking about the "unwanted"...the unborn, the elderly and infirm, the handicapped, and the overflow of animals deposited in Humane Societies.

Do their lives have value?

Or are they a "mistake" that needs to be eliminated to make room for the useful? The healthy? The productive?

Recently we celebrated Good Friday...the day Christ went to the cross...

And gave His life for all mankind. For all creation.

Because God so loved the whole world.

The lovely, the unlovely. The whole, the broken. The healthy, the infirm.

I thank God that He does not look at us the way that we look upon one another.

He sees through the lens of unconditional love.

In His sight, all are precious. Wanted. Valuable.

Not because of what we can do. Or produce...our society is big on that one...

Nor because of what we look like, for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

But because all is made by God...in His image...a Holy Likeness.

We are all scarred and marred, imperfect and flawed...for some, it shows on the outside and is visible.

But for all us, it shows on the inside...where only God can see.

Every human being...every animal...all of His creation is flawed, And yet precious to Him.

As His children, we are called to be stewards...caretakers of all that is in this world.

You see, maybe what we're talking about is something more...

A purpose that has a bigger meaning...

A purpose not defined by what we think, but what He says...

That by honoring all life, we honor its Creator...

Who knows that patience. kindness, empathy, service, and self-denial offer rewards of their own.

And that by serving one another, we serve Him.

A Persimmon tree is not a person. Or an animal.

But God used it to teach me a valuable lesson...

That just because something isn't the way it should be...

Doesn't mean that it can't still have value. And purpose. And meaning.

Not just for its own sake, but for those around it.

I don't think I will ever look at that Persimmon tree again, and see only a tree.