The garden expert said this was the perfect weekend for pruning. I laughed at this thought. There is no good weekend for pruning much less a perfect weekend. I think my least favorite garden task is pruning, but on this so-called perfect weekend, I tackled the rose bushes.
I stood on the porch and saw the mass of dead canes under the green ones. As I moved closer, I could see the way these dead canes blocked the light, nutrients, and air circulation from the new growth. I knew it needed to be pruned for the health of the whole plant. As I came to the bush with clippers in hand and resolve in my step, I could see the small green shoots with struggling leaves on some of the canes I thought were dead. This is the really hard part of pruning for me. I can tolerate and even appreciate the removal of dead limbs, but the removal of live parts no matter how sick or necessary, no matter how improbable that health and flourishing would return to these branches, I struggle to prune the green.
Steeling my resolve, I make the first cut, an obviously dead branch of course. Not so bad. In the tangle of canes, a cut severs a cane with just a bit of green. A bit of remorse washes over me. I move deeper into the rose bush and begin to appreciate the years of growth, blooming, and withering that have made this bush. I recall helping build the fence the bush now sprawls upon. I struggle to remember when the bush was planted. So many memories, most of them very good, in the years these canes represent. A wave of thoughts, memories, emotions, and something deeper passes over me. Good years. Past years. A few thorns and many flowers. Honoring. Savoring. Letting go.
A cooling breeze and the roll of thunder signals an end to my pruning for the day. I gather the clippings and step back to look. Not all of the dead wood is gone. Some of what remains is bare. Some of the branches are distorted from struggling to grow around all of the dead canes.
I stand on the porch again looking through the rain at the mostly pruned rose bush. As the nourishing rain reaches places previously packed with the dead growth of past seasons, I look forward to seeing the healthy new growth that will fill this space.
I stop to wonder about my own life. How might I invite the Gardener to prune. In times of Silence, I realize that the flowers are cut to be cherished and enjoyed. In Sabbath, some wild branches are trimmed and some of the broken and diseased limbs near the surface are removed.
It is in Solitude that the deep pruning occurs. Some green branches are cut back so that the remainder can flourish. The old and withered canes that once produced flowers are remembered, cherished, and removed. What remains is nourished and encouraged to grow and flower.