A nearby town's annual Dogwood Festival draws large crowds for the purpose of viewing and of becoming inspired by this small tree's elegant and all? too? brief display. It is remarkable that that fragile tree with spindly branches could bear such abundant beauty. The impressiveness and intensity of that beauty are subject to the vagaries of weather and the other elements of nature. Gazing upon the nature of mankind and indeed the very life of an individual, manifest are the complex effects of reason, passion, conscience and creed. The greater or the lesser beauty of one's having lived is based somewhat on nature and on nurture. Choices, tastes, commitments, avoidances, and countless other factors that have contributed to the environment of one's life have helped to fashion the image and character of one's flowering. Unlike the dogwood, the aggregate of the objective elements in the life of a human being is insufficient to predict the final product.
In living, one creates experiences and is created by them. Working with the raw material of life, it is hoped that one eventually discovers his or her niche where talents and creativity might find expression. However, there is a trap in this springtime of self? realization: the unexamined life. What criteria are being used to evaluate the goodness or Godliness within the products of one's talents? Has one become so self? consumed that any sense of gift to the world disappears?
"And he [Jesus] 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 and have found none. So cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground? He said to him in reply, 'Sir leave it for another year, 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
One cannot blossom unless deeply rooted in the Spirit. Thankfully, the Gardener will work tirelessly to revitalize each human soul with His living grace, mercy, and guidance. In his work Confessions, Saint Augustine prays, "My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it …." The faithful soul whose portfolio of achievement has been designed as a gift to God and to humanity truly has honored the passage of one's time.
A scene (Don Juan in Hell) from Act III of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman describes a conversation between Don Juan, John Tanner, a statue from Mozart's opera Don Giovani and the Devil. Don Juan declares that it is God's idea that He depends on man to accomplish His will and that gives human life its meaning. At the expense of his own desires, the superman of the title discovers and follows God's will. Thus, he achieves success and an ultimate satisfaction in life. The grace of God and the freedom of the human will linked by love produces the most worthwhile results in the enterprise of living
Insight into the process of tending one's own Tree of Life and concern for the beauty and abundance of the fruit it bears acknowledge a responsibility before God to lead a life of faith. At the end, when the hoe is returned to the shed, let there be harmony in assessing one's gift to humankind, the measure of one's contentment, and one's sense of service to God.
The depths of one's self is a spiritual place, a core of mystery. This center is more than one's spiritual DNA; it is a place where the Holy Spirit can function and form a person anew. From this indwelling love one finds the fulfillment and fruitfulness of existence.
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