Against the backdrop of a dirt yard and a shut down world, my flowering plum trees seems extra breathtaking this month. It could be that I am noticing the little things more. I am reflecting on life a little deeper, as I suspect you may be.
I recently was reminded, through these simple trees of the value of friends. It has been over forty days since I have not been able to hug the neck of my closest friends. I am a hugger and arm patter by nature. This distancing has been hard for this relational heart.
I have phoned, texted, and face timed. I have met a friend for a walk and we talked too loudly with each other as we hiked through our neighborhood at a social distance. I joined a parade for one of my students and screamed “Happy Birthday” at the top of my lungs and wanted to just give him a high five and hair tousel.
I have not been able to see my nieces or nephew, invite my kids friends over to rot their brains on video games and candy, or lazily meander through Target and text a friend about a funny T shirt I may have found.
Yep, life is different and the new “normal” may be weird in the months ahead.
What has it looked like for you?
What have you realized you do often, that you miss?
Friendship in the Trees
The truth is that the trees are still blooming, and birds are still singing. The cycle of life is still moving forward. Our holy God still remains on His throne just as He did a few short months ago when we sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs.
The beauty and simplicity of these trees, intricately woven by the Master Creator, light up my backyard like a beacon in this darkness. They remind me that “the trees of the field do clap their hands”. (Isaiah 55:12)
Last week, upon closer examination, there was a surprise hidden amongst the leaves of one of the these trees.
Interspersed between the between the bright fuchsia, red, and bubble-gum pink blossoms was something that seemed out of place.
Radiant white blossoms were bursting forth.
It appeared that grafted into the trunk of these flowering trees, another tree had taken root.
An apple tree was living its life connected to this flowering plum.
This interdependence and bonding have produced a brilliant display of the work of the Master.
Friendship Comes At Just the Right Moment
On the heels of this discovery I was instructed to go into my classroom and clean out children’s desk and cubbies.
We were preparing school supplies to go home for a mass pick up. I wasn’t prepared for the impact this would take on my heart as a teacher or a woman in the middle of a global pandemic.
Undoubtedly, I have been through some mourning over this school year ending the way it is predicted to.
But, the finality of cleaning out desks and the loneliness that envelopes a teacher in isolation as she has poured into families for months tugged at my heart ferociously.
As I was processing this, a dear friend texted me to say she would be in to help me the next day as I started the monumental task.
My heart sat in gratitude over the reality of what my friend was sacrificially offering.
She had her own concerns and her own “tree”.
But because we are friends, because she has a generous heart, and because we are united in this bond of faith, she allowed her tree to blossom in the middle of mine.
We spent nearly four hours sorting, stapling, cleaning, and visiting.
When the final bag was placed in its resting place for pickup, we both stood back with a quiet sigh.
I fought the tears and she quietly said, “We just need to take a minute here”. I couldn’t hug her because of the “restrictions”, but our hearts knew.
We were connected–even in our quiet grief.
Life is hard, sweet reader. Never underestimate the people God has placed into your life. Never forget the way He brings friends to you in your sadness and helps them support you in your frustrations. The circumstances we experience bring people to us in all manner of ways.
It could be a quick text.
A quiet email or a beautiful note.
Delivered baskets, smiling faces, or committed babysitting.
Hands that lift our weary bodies and prayers that guide us through the darkest storms.
We were made to minister and equally to be ministered to.
Jesus knew this. Dying on the cross, he looked at His own mother and made sure she knew she had someone to watch over her. (John 19:25-27)
Paul’s missionary journeys would never have been completed without help from his friends and counterparts in the faith. (I Thessalonians 1)
Our lives are never going to be all they can without allowing others to blossom in our midst.
God used an apple tree in the midst of a plum tree to show me this during a pandemic. His ways are higher. We remain secure because He is in our midst and we have each other.