Still Full of Sap, Still Green


Psalm 91
The just will flourish like the palm-tree
And grow like a Lebanon cedar.
Planted in the house of the Lord
They will flourish in the courts of our God,
Still bearing fruit when they are old,
Still full of sap still green…

The question for me this Lent, as it is for every Lent is how to ensure we keep the sap flowing, especially in the face of the turmoil all round us and our natural tendency to domesticate life.

I suspect it won’t happen by seeking the security of another set of protective ideas. Another course, another workshop!

Nor will it happen by denying any part of myself. I need to incorporate every aspect of my humanity.

To keep the sap flowing, to become people of love takes work – requires training and discipline. It doesn’t happen automatically.

In ‘church speak’, we have to mortify ourselves, literally do to death, what is holding us back, give up what is preventing us from  loving more fully. Preventing sap flowing.

We don’t do this to annoy ourselves, to punish ourselves, prove ourselves. Lent does not involve a series of punitive exercises imposed on a reluctant and often frightened part of myself.

Too often in the past, we tried to change our lives by using the mind to identify the goal and the will to hammer ourselves into shape. This, as John O ’Donohue points out so eloquently, was externalist and violent and only served to bring us falsely outside ourselves.

Growth in love, is more like pruning in spring to promote better growth in summer.