Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
Give me shelter. After years of great blessing, we are startled to become what we need.
At least that is God’s hope for us, a secret planted so deeply in our flesh that we discover it only after many years of thinking we are less than we are.
I had a dream once of a great tree, a maple with wide leaves and broadly spreading boughs, standing solo in a small meadow behind my aunt’s house.
I cut through that field when I left elementary school in the afternoons. A police car sometimes sat on the other side of the field, the officer waiting to tell me (again) that I should not cut across people’s yards.
I told him it was my aunt’s yard, and she didn’t mind. He didn’t know what to say, which was fine with me. I could continue my way.
But I didn’t want to. I wanted to roll around in the grass by the tiny stream that cut through one corner the field. I wanted to feel free, no longer locked up and watched like a hawk at school, able to wander where I chose, uninhibited by authorities who seemed to exist to tell not to do what I wanted or to go where I chose.
Years later, I dreamt of that field, a symbol of freedom and peace from my childhood. In the dream, there was a great maple in field, a tree that was not there during my youth. The tree spread mighty arms, creating an island of sweet shade from the afternoon sun under which I found shelter from the heat.
Alone, at peace, unshackled, I found blessed respite under this great tree that wanted nothing, but always welcomed my arrival and blessed me for whatever time I spent there.
This is what I wanted … and wanted also from the God to whom I prayed--a great tree to give me shelter. I suppose I have looked for such shelter all my life, thinking I needed it more than most.
I found it in communities of grace, among people who were strong and gracious, like my imaginary tree. They provided safe places where welcome was real and being real was welcome.
For most of my life I have seen myself as a receiver, a needy receiver of shelter. But something happens in years of receiving the grace you crave, you become what you receive.
Resting under great trees of welcome, over time, our lives become like my spreading maple, offering respite and peace, islands of sweet shade and shelter where other souls find life and blessing.
Becoming the tree of respite for another soul is great blessing … and a sign that the seed of grace planted in your life is finally, after decades of struggle and uncertainty bearing the beauty and fruit the Holy One always intended.
It all starts with a small seed, planted in the soil of our souls that grows into a tree where birds find their home, or so Jesus says.
Pr. David L. Miller