Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Olive trees and following our gifts

     This is an extremely busy time at our house, but I will try to add posts whenever possible.  Dale Gentry, who spoke at Elevate 2011 and at our church, left Monday.  Today I will be picking up my friend, Jan, who has been my friend since first grade, at the airport in Indy.  She will be here a couple of weeks and since she hasn't been here for over 4 years we have lots planned to do. How much fun it will be to get re-connected!  I'm sure we will talk for hours! 
    We have more friends coming Sunday night and staying for the 4th.  These are new friends that I want to write about when I can.  It is amazing how the Lord brought them into our lives last weekend, and the connection we feel toward them--as if they are members of our family.  To me it is an amazing story so stay tuned.  :o)
     This email meditation was sent to me today by my friend, Mary.  I thought it worth posting and pondering. 

Following Our Gifts
I am like
an olive tree
in the house of God.
 –Psalm 52

Life is not about going through the motions from birth to death. Life is about the development of self to the point of unbridled joy. Life is about trusting our talents and following our gifts. But how? Olive trees hint at the answer even today.

Olive trees are a very important and very meaningful image in Jewish literature. To the Jewish mind, to "grow like an olive tree" is no small thing. It isn't easy to grow trees in the Middle East. Sand is hardly a conducive environment for forestry. Yet, there is one wood that seems to thrive on the difficulty of the process. There is one tree with a natural talent for life in the middle of nowhere. The olive tree grows hard wood on barren ground, with little water, for a long, long time.

To "grow like an olive tree," then, means to grow without much help, to grow hardy, to grow long and to grow on very little nourishment. The olive tree doesn't need much to develop, it gives good wood at the end of a long, slow process of growth, and it doesn't die easily, sometimes not for thousands of years. The olive tree has a talent for life. There are some olive trees in the Garden of Olives, in fact, that scholars estimate were there the night of the Last Supper when Christ went there to pray. Startling, isn't it?

In this culture, in this age, on the other hand, the temptation is to think that everything—including our own natural abilities—ought to come easily. We want fast service and quick results. We want a lot for nothing. We want the greatest degree of return for the least amount of effort. And we want out of whatever doesn't work the first time. There is very little of the focused, the hardy, the persistent olive tree in us. There is very little talent for talent in us. 

Yet talents that lie dormant in our souls destroy us from the inside out. If we do not learn to slowly, patiently, painfully, if necessary, let them come to life in us, we risk our own robotization.

We give ourselves over to the pain of a living death. Talent is the gift that will not go away.
from Songs of the Heart: Reflections on the Psalms by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)

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