Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.
Growing up, I awoke each day to familiar trees standing in the Albemarle Sound. They are used as homes by eagles, as shade when swimming, as anchors for boats and canoes, as markers of how high the water levels had risen during a storm, or how low the water had gotten in times of drought. These cypress trees are deeply rooted.
The next time I paid much attention to trees in the water was during an outreach trip to Haiti. Each day we worked with doctors and dentists providing medicine and pulling teeth. Afternoons were spent losing soccer games to the local children. At the close of each day, we walked down to the beach to reflect on the day and to be renewed by the water. My favorite spot was under a green, gnarly tree. The tree had been weathered and worn by many storms, but it was grounded and green and beautiful.
God, help me to feel your loving presence and trust in you, so that I may be like a tree planted by the water. Not fearful or anxious of hardships, but trusting and renewed, so that I may feel grounded and ready to bear the fruit you have asked me to grow.
Appointed readings for today: Hosea 6:1-6, Psalm 51:15-20, Luke 18:9-14