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Sarah Richardson’s article in the October Diary September 25, 2020

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.

When our third son was born, we were given a pear tree. It is rather an unusual new baby gift, and as my husband and I are neither skilled nor enthusiastic gardeners, it immediately posed a challenge to us as to where and how we’d plant it, and how we might keep it alive and fruitful. It is a Williams’ Bon Chretien Pear (we had named our son William), and this year appears to be the most productive we have had so far, of the six years we’ve had it. We really are not good gardeners; I try to remember to water it if it’s a particularly dry summer, and we prop it up with a stick every now and then. It’s fairly amazing that it produces anything. But as we begin to pick the fruit, and its leaves start to fall, we will once again be left with a rather unremarkable looking, and slightly crooked tree on our front lawn. The small bare bones of the tree will remain throughout the winter, and it will seem as if nothing is happening; there will be no buds and no leaves, and no signs of growth or life. But I am confident that come next spring, the leaves will return, and the flimsy looking branches will bear fruit again.

We live in a society that does not often appreciate these times of ‘unfruitfulness’, the times when it looks like nothing is happening, but I don’t believe that our pear tree is about to have a lazy winter. It will be restoring its roots and trunk, allowing the branches to prepare for another season of growth. We do a disservice to ourselves and others if we expect continuing fruitfulness with no time for our leaves to fall, and our branches to rest without the burden of heavy fruit. Some people have had exceptionally fruitful times this year, using the unexpected enforced time at home to learn Hebrew, whittle spoons, take up running, or nurture sourdough starters (this is a selection of some of my friends’ new skills).

Yet for some of us, this year has brought a time of empty branches and lost leaves. In the Bible there are several examples of rest being encouraged, even commanded. Yet God is unchanging in his faithfulness throughout the seasons and we can always be assured of his presence with us, whether we feel as though we are fully fruitful, just beginning to produce buds, or as if the last of our leaves are falling. Even in the worst of the winter, the trees are still rooted in the soil, taking what they need. And so we too can stand rooted in God, even in the bleakest of times. God delights in us in every season, and sees the beauty of our empty, fragile branches as well as that of our leaves and our fruit.



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