We are all called to build the faith of others. $50,000 is needed to do it beyond January.
$8143 has been donated by 79 champions of the Catholic Faith.
Donate now to keep this ministry going.

Why Sawing Wood on a Hot Summer Day
Isn’t as Bad as You Think

Saint Francis of AssisiRalph and I looked at the sweetgum tree that was now leaning at a 45-degree angle. Its roots, pulling out of the ground, were pushing against a neighboring tree, threatening to topple it, too. And the tree was leaning heavily on a young oak tree. Oak trees are sturdy, of course, but the weight of the leaning tree might eventually damage it, so we decided to take off the pressure from the two nearby trees by sawing the dying tree away from its base.

That’s how we spent a very hot, very humid day.

Sweetgums have shallow root systems and compete fiercely with nearby plants for water and nutrients. Our yard has a lot of them intermingled with palm trees and oak trees and a few other varieties. The sweetgums grew tall during the drought years that affected Florida for two decades. Now that we’ve got our normal rain amounts back, they’re not able to stand up in the moist soil. They’re top-heavy.

sawing a fallen tree

There’s a lesson in that, and seeing it made it worthwhile to endure the sweat dripping into my eyes and the humidity that was steaming up my sunglasses.

The sweetgum tree is a good metaphor for Christians whose faith is not deeply rooted. For a while, they grow tall in their own estimation. They might even look tall to others when they take on leadership roles within the Church or community. But they compete fiercely with those who disagree with them, or they suck up the life from those around them, draining them of energy, time, enthusiasm, joy, and (sometimes, sadly) faith.

Sooner or later, when rains saturate their lives long enough, they topple, because their faith is not deep enough to keep them securely them embedded in the soil of life where God has planted them.

When they do topple, they lean on those who are nearby. This can be good or bad. It’s good if they are ready to face that their understanding of the faith (and life and why they got into difficulty) needs reinforcement. It’s bad if those they lean on are not strong enough to support the burden of the challenges that caused them to topple. One falling sweetgum tree can pull down other, nearby sweetgums and knock off the branches of sturdy trees.

a sapling grows from a dead stumpIt’s worse if they are not willing to learn new understandings. When we’re the ones they’re leaning on, if we rely on Jesus, he makes us strong. But there comes a time when we have to let them fall, because they are only leaning, not growing and recovering. Hopefully — and we pray for this — they will gain new understandings and humility from their fall. Humility can fertilize their soil, producing new life. In my yard is a different tree that died three years ago, and a new tree is growing from its stump.

May your roots go deep and your strength become strong and your spiritual height become tall. And may you have the wisdom to know when others need your strength and whether or not they’re ready for it.

© 2016 by Terry A. Modica


Please share this with others by using the social sharing icons at the top of this page. Or request a printable copy that's licensed for distribution here, if it is not indicated next to the copyright notice that it is already available from Catholic Digital Resources.
Copyrighted by Good News Ministries. Printed for single-user, personal use only. To distribute this, permission is required. Printed from: http://wordbytes.gnm.org/franciscan-moments-sawing-wood/
Liked it? Subscribe to more Good News at gogoodnews.net!
Choose one of the editions of the Good News Reflections, and as a thank-you for subscribing, we will also send you a free download of my mini-ebook "10 Prayers That Changed My Life".
Send donations to:
Good News Ministries
5474 Willams Road, Suite 2B
Tampa, Florida 33610 USA

GNM logo donated  by
Brent Delperdang of
Web Talent Marketing

Website content © 1996 - 2017
Most photos © Terry Modica. All rights reserved.
See our Copyrights Page for permission.

Good News Ministries gnm.org

Looking for
Charlie Osborn's
Good News of Divine Mercy?

This is NOT it! Here's his info.

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay is a Catholic adult faith formation and evangelization ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. We offer events such as seminars, retreats, courses, and parish missions. Our speakers for Catholic adult education specialize in teaching the Church documents, Bible study, the Vocation of Marriage, and prayer. Our services include daily Good News Reflections on the readings from Catholic Mass, WordBytes e-magazine, Virtual Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Online Rosaries, and much more. As a non-profit charitable organization, GNM charges no fees but accepts donations to continue ministering. Catholic Digital Resources is Terry Modica's writing services company. Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay, Inc., is an equal opportunity agency; we never practice discrimination based upon age, ethnicity, gender, national origin, disability, race, size, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background, other than as allowed by law.