"You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land." - Psalm 80:8-9
Watching Erick work, I'm in awe. This master arborist is transplating a tree in the church's courtyard. He knows the precise dimensions of the space it needs. Just so wide, just so deep.
When he takes the sapling out of its plastic tub, the roots are swirling around the edge in a circle. He makes strategic cuts with his pruning scissors. Without them, the tree will keep growing in the shape of its old container instead of spreading out into the ground.
When we've filled in the hole, Erick has a prescription for watering, a daily dose which is not too much and not too little.
I think of the community that he and I share, the place where we and many others are hoping to grow and thrive. Some need more support, others more space. Some are drought-hardy; others require more water. Some are ready to put down roots. Others are still breaking out of containers that no longer fit.
If we do our work, the whole garden can grow. But I wish we had Erick's expertise, his certainty about what each one needs.
At least I can show his care. The thoughtful way he approaches each shrub and tree. The psalmist says it's like God's care for God's people.
God smuggles a clipping out of captivity. Makes space for it and gives it what it needs to take root and branch out. More than that, God loves it enough to do the work. And plants and people can feel that.
Give us what we need to grow and thrive.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.