Holy Boldness in the Face of Crosses
In my backyard there is a sapling that was planted directly under a chain-link fence probably by a squirrel. As it grew, the tree not only wove itself around the bars but swallowed them into itself. Nothing could inhibit the life force that impelled the tree upwards. You can see it in the photo. This tree right now is a symbol for me of the Christian life. As we follow Jesus, we encounter all kinds of obstacles. We can either succumb to them and let our faith wither and die, or we can plough our way through them.
Challenges surround us on all fronts. We wonder what our Church is coming to, what our diocese is coming to, and what our country is coming to—maybe what our religious community or marriage is coming to. Somehow, with the grace of God, we can not only endure but thrive. No one is spared crosses. Look at the lives of the saints. Look at Jesus himself. The religious authorities had it in for him. They harassed him, mocked him, and turned people against him. His disciples were slow to understand his teachings. In the end all but one deserted him. Rome condemned him to death. Yet, through the cross, Jesus triumphed. He predicted that his followers too could expect crosses. The history of the Church proves he was right.
The question is: what will we do with our current crosses? Will we let them defeat us? Or will we use them as stepping stones to a far better life? All it takes for life to win out is holy boldness and perseverance. The Holy Spirit will be at work.
That tree inspires me. What courageous person inspires you?
Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing your reflection on “your” tree. It reminded me of how every year when I make a retreat, I find at least one tree that speaks to me in some way. One year, it was the mighty tulip tree (one of but a few that I can actually name). Another year is was one of a pair of rather young trees (newly planted on the property) that caught my eye. The leaves and the bark were in such stark contrast: the bark looked prickly, but the leaves were very delicate. Often I saw a bird or two perched in “my” tree. I found myself inspired to draw these trees and write of the symbolism that I saw. When I come accross these drawings either in my bible or journal, I am drawn right back into the experience of the retreat and thank God for the wonder of His creation.
Praise the Lord in all His works!
Long ago there was a set of slides for praying the Stations of the Cross that showed a tree to represent each station.