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Posts Tagged ‘blueberry ash’

Around three years ago, I wrote a blog about a blueberry ash tree I had planted as a tiny seedling on the creek bank behind our house. By that stage, it had managed to survive several years of being attacked by our lawnmower and a total lack of care from me. Then a flood came—and my little tree, then about a metre and half in height, disappeared beneath the murky brown water. Yet, miracle of miracles, after those waters receded, it popped up again, good as new!

In the ensuing years, that blueberry ash has grown to around three metres, producing beautiful, miniature clusters of pale pink flowers and interesting little blue berries, as per its name. But during the heavy rains here in Sydney a few weeks ago, it experienced another adventure. Again, I watched from the safety of our kitchen as it disappeared one afternoon beneath a torrent of fast-flowing, brown water.

Now the deluge was not as high this time, yet somehow, my tree still ended up completely submerged. When I later went to investigate, it was lying almost horizontal and covered in all sorts of debris. For it to be in that position, I was sure its roots must have popped through the surface of the ground—but no. Instead, that tree, with its slender, pliable trunk, had managed to bend almost at right angles, without disturbing the soil around its base. Those roots held firm, somewhere way down deep in that soggy creek bank.

P1040093I hastily cleaned up my tree and propped it up, tying it to our fence for a while, in case of any further flood. It seemed to recover well, but recently, we noticed it was growing at something of an angle. We decided it needed some help to stand up straight again and tied it firmly to a long stake. And it was at that point I realised what a powerful image of our lives this tree conveyed.

In Psalm 1:3, we read how those who delight in the law of the Lord are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. In order for us to stand firm, it’s important to ensure our roots go down deep into God as we constantly drink from the living water God provides. Yet life can still become a struggle at times and even the best of us may end up like my poor tree, needing help to weather the storms. How good it is when we are able to call on others who will support us during those times, just like that stake, and provide a shoulder to lean on until we become strong and resilient again! Surely this is one of the functions of the Body of Christ—to lift up our brothers and sisters and to bear one another’s burdens until that resilience wins through again.

Have you been feeling a little like my blueberry ash of late, overwhelmed and bent at right angles? I pray God will soon strengthen you and that others will be there to support you until you can stand up straight and tall once again. May your roots go down deep into God and may you in turn be able to strengthen and encourage many others.

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During the recent heavy rains, we knew it was quite likely that the creek outside our back fence would inundate our yard. After all, this creek flows down from a nearby high ridge and into the Parramatta River not far away. So when heavy rains coincide with a high tide in the river, then the water has to go somewhere.

We knew we were not in any danger as we watched the creek quickly rise. Nevertheless, we clearly remembered the mess left in our yard from previous floods and did not want to have to shovel and hose and clean up yet again.

Then I noticed a blueberry ash tree I had planted several years ago on the creek bank was now surrounded by murky water. It had been a giveaway at our local Council’s ‘free tree’ day when a tiny seedling and had managed to survive being attacked by our lawnmower and a total lack of care from me. There it was, still standing bravely upright—and I was so proud of it.

I left my post momentarily. And when I returned, my blueberry ash was nowhere to be seen. I stood staring at the spot, feeling very sad for a tree that had fought so gamely to survive. It had not cost me anything, so was no great loss. But it had taken years to get to about a metre and half in height. And now it was wiped out.

Disgusted, I walked inside.

Not long after, my husband ventured down our yard to begin cleaning up—and next time I looked, lo and behold, there was my blueberry ash again!

‘It was weighed down by a lot of debris that had caught in its leaves,’ my husband told me. “Once I removed that, it sprang back up!’

Later, I went down to inspect my tree myself. Yes, it was standing up, albeit at a slight angle. Even its little, dark blue berries were still intact. At its base, the roots had obviously been strained and tested—but they had held firm. I straightened the tree, packed some more earth around it and placed a rock at its base. Yes, it had survived and would live to grown even firmer and stronger.

Immediately, I thought of the words of Psalm 1:1-3:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The roots of my blueberry ash had obviously gone down deep enough into the moist soil by the creek to withstand the fast flowing flood waters. Yes, my tree had been weighed down with debris but it had stood firm. What a parable for my own life! What a graphic reminder of how I need to close my ears to discouragement and bad advice and instead send my roots down deep into the Word of God, drinking from that living water only God can provide! Then when the difficulties of my writing journey threaten to overwhelm me, I will remain unmoved, lift my head, shake myself off and start again.

May you too be like my blueberry ash, standing firm, whatever the waters that may swirl around you!

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