As I was pruning the privet in front of our home I pondered the difference between informed and thoughtful pruning versus thoughtless and uninformed whacking. In our region a great example of this is how people prune crepe myrtle. With crepe myrtle there is pruning designed to nurture the health of the tree and then there is “crepe murder”; the latter is when the tree is radically cut back every year to stimulate blooming, the problem with crepe murder is that it does not promote long-term health nor does it enhance the natural growth of the tree.
Sometimes we are so intent on producing blooms that we sacrifice long-term health, in which instance we sacrifice long-term blooming for short-term blooms. Society has a short-term blooming mindset, the church has a short-term blooming mindset, we are tempted to live in a short-term mindset.
I’m afraid there have been times I haven’t understood pruning; times I haven’t taken the long-term view with people; times I have pruned too radically; times I haven’t pondered limb structure and growth pattern and appreciated the development history of the tree or shrub.
When working with the privet I used a pair of electric hedge trimmers, a large lopper, and a small lopper; each tool had its particular use. The hedge trimmer was for general shaping, the large lopper for pruning large branches, the small lopper for working with small branches. A cut here and a cut there, a pass with the hedge trimmer, more cuts here and there, another pass with the trimmer. I used the small lopper to work with the natural growth of the privet, this required attention to detail, to growth patterns – it required an appreciation of the plant’s history. We all have a history, we all have patterns – while there are times we may require radical pruning, long-term sustained health is best served with frequent detailed pruning. Submitting ourselves daily to the working of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God places us in a position where our kind heavenly Father can shape us into the image of our Lord Jesus.