I spent the final days of my sabbatical at our diocesan retreat, Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in New Hampshire, on the shores of Otter Lake. On a cold but sunny afternoon, I bundled up and sat out on the deck to soak up the sunshine as it reflected off the frozen lake.
That is when I noticed them. Two trees, growing right on the edge of the lake; one evergreen, laden with tiny pinecones, its fruit in all seasons apparently! The other, only six feet away from the first, was completely bare. No leaves, no buds in evidence; simply thin brown branches pointed up towards the sky. Shiny in its naked resting. Hopeful in its trust that spring would come at some point. Two trees, growing in the same soil, reaching for the same water from the ground and welcoming the same rain and snow and sunlight from the sky; and yet completely different!
Of course they are different types of trees–one evergreen and one not. But it made me think about all of us. As people of faith, we too are planted in the same ground (our beloved Trinity church). We thirst after the same water; that Living Water Jesus promises. We are baptized into Life and Death and Resurrection by the same Lord. And yet we, like the trees, display our gifts, our hopes, our longings, the fruits of our faith in very different ways and at different times. Like these two trees, we sit next to each other in worship, we kneel next to each other at the Communion rail, we pray and sing hymns beside one another; all while being planted here together! In those moments, when we say and pray and sing and serve, we are doing so with the particular gifts and faith, the skills and the grace we have each been given by God. Our ministries, our lives, do not look the same as those of others, and this is to be celebrated!
As we enter a new year and I live back into our lives together as your Rector, how can we celebrate the many ways we each show our faith? All the ways we seek to love God and each other? The trees show me that there is no one “right way.” Each of those trees, each of us, is faithful in the ways we are called and beautiful in God’s eyes. Each of them trusts in God’s provision of dirt, and water, and light in order to grow and produce fruit in due season. How can we, in this new season, build our trust in God so we too can grow in love and faithfulness?
I SO look forward to seeing you on Sunday for worship at 8 am or 10 am (bring the water you gathered from your sacred/holy place!) and hopefully for the Forum at 9 am, too.
I also look forward to catching up with you in person or over the phone. Please reach out to me if you would like to schedule a Chapel Chat (can be indoors), coffee, visit, or a phone call. It will likely take me a while to catch up with all that has happened at Trinity in my absence, but I am eager to see you and continue our faith walk together.