Do prunes grow from a tree that is pruned? I don’t know but prunes help get the junk out just like pruning a tree helps keep things healthy in a tree.
I am no tree doctor, but I do know that trees need to be cut back from time to time to create opportunities for further growth, healthier growth. Sometimes, we just want growth, so we neglect sharpening our blades, and pulling out the clippers to trim back a few bad branches.
Still in further cases, we let sickness go unchecked so long that a tree needs to be cut back further and further.
A pruned tree and I am not so sure why I want to say prune as much as I do in this post, but it sounds pretty cool, can give off false perceptions. To an untrained or unattentive eye, a pruned tree looks awfully dead. Perhaps a parallel analogy could come from the winter season when a tree loses all of its leaves. Seasons come and go, but as long as the tree stays rooted in the right place, the fruit will come in the right season.
What is the point of all this pruning and season mumbo jumbo you ask?
Well, Jesus promised us that the father would prune us. Sometimes that gets interpreted individually. Yet, can I daresay that the passage in John 15 could also apply to the community of faith in a collective us as the people of God issue.
Sometimes, the church will go through season when God prunes and cuts out the branches that should not be there. And no matter what, as one who has led a church through a pruning from God…it is not comfortable. However, I am looking forward to the further fruitfulness this church and all others that hold onto as God shapes them into the healthy trees that he wants them to be will have.
We talked about spirits houses and superstitions throughout this series on traditional religion as seen in Thailand. Let’s catch up a little remembering that Thailand has a rich culture with many of the people holding on to their traditional beliefs even as Buddhism came to the country. Buddhism is very flexible and allows for variation as it covers the universal questions. However, the people still look for answers on the existential issues of everyday life. People everywhere look for answers to identity, belonging, life and death. They don’t ask where you go after death, but why did you die. What makes for a good life and one that is cut off too short? They turn to spirits, sometimes referred to the middle spirits.
To many in traditional worldviews, they see God as distant or detached from their life and world. They look to spirits to help them succeed or to be the cause of problems. Spirits occupy the property as we talked about with the new house ceremony and spirit houses. Spirits can bother young children as well as everyone in different ways.
Many Thai people even honor the spirits that live in trees. The bigger the tree, the stronger the spirit. They will tie ribbons around the tree to allow it to look good. Some will even put a dress up next to the tree to give an aesthetic appearance of beauty. They will leave offerings of toys and food to give the spirit nourishment and enjoyment.
If you see one of these trees, you will also see what seem like discarded spirit houses. They are not discarded, as it would dishonor the spirit to destroy or throw away the spirit house. You can’t keep it in poor shape at your house, but if you put it near the tree, it will be okay.