A Time for Pruning

I recently turned 74 and to celebrate the event Marsha took me out to breakfast.

It’s customary for us to mark the passing of each year with a reflective question. This year Marsha asked me,

“Pat, how have you grown?”

Hmmmm — nothing came to mind, nothing at all. It seems with the passage of time life has become a game of subtractions, not additions. Where do I start?

  • lost brain cells 
  • lost energy 
  • lost memory
  • lost muscle 
  • lost loved ones 

My experience of Pat is that he’s getting smaller in a world that’s getting bigger — and the question of growth really ought to be aimed at the young.

But do I really believe that?

Not so much. It’s just far too simple. Marsha’s question was the right one and a good reminder it was high time for me to be looking for an answer. 

So I continued to wrestle with it, and wouldn’t you know it, not three days later Mother Nature provided me an elegant answer.

It happened when my eyes latched onto something new growing on the hydrangea bush planted in our front garden. This old bush has been around a long, long time.

I’ve never paid much attention to what happens in our garden; that’s always been Marsha’s domain. But on this morning, noticing something new growing on something old seemed very relevant — to me.

So with my interest peaked, I high-tailed it outside for a closer examination. And sure enough, countless numbers of dormant buds were visible along the leaf stalks.

Now, this may seem commonplace to you but it came to me as a miracle.

Mother Nature was spewing forth new life on a very old hydrangea bush.

I asked Marsha to explain this process to me. She said it’s all very simple. Earlier this year the bush had been pruned.

Prune: to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth. to cut away what is unwanted or superfluous.

So sure enough, like clockwork, the pruned stems were preparing to sprout fresh new shoots that, in just a few months, will burst into beautiful flowers.

Such is the way of natural life.

I’ve been pruned in almost every possible way. I’m a full inch shorter that I was just a short while ago, my hair has been pruned, along with an hour of sleep each night. Why, I was even pruned of two stones in my left kidney. You name it and I have less of it: energy, memory, muscle, and money in my IRA.

So maybe the answer to Marsha’s question of how I’ve grown is simply:

I’ve been pruned.

Just like our ancient hydrangea I’ve been pruned down to my leaf stalk. I too am just one more child of Mother Nature who’s gotten the lesson that before I can grow I need to get small.

I’m one who has a hard time letting go of what’s made me comfortable, even when I’m long past being comfortable.

Maybe the hydrangea bush is whispering to me: Let go, let go, let go.

So this year I am resolving to let go of vestiges of the past that no longer work for me, along with the bits and pieces that Mother Nature is pruning away. And, to quit complaining about how I’ve aged and start being happy for the opportunity that is aging.

So, come spring I’ll be checking myself out to see what new buds are springing from my old, worn limbs.

Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something’s time has passed and be able to move into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings. ~ Henry Cloud

Just a thought…


Copyright © 2023 Patrick J. Moriarty. All Rights Reserved.

Would you like to submit a post to Just A Thought? To learn more, please click here.