Author: Amy Ostwald

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:6-8

When an old apple tree on our property died about ten years ago, my dad planted a maple tree to fill the empty space. It was a beautiful adolescent this past summer, tall and lithe with rich and healthy leaves.  Sadly, its leaves were still green when we had our first early snowfall; the weight of the snow pushed most of its branches down to the ground and broke them off. Only the three lowest branches survived. My brother cut the trunk down to these branches and we hoped for the best. Maybe it could still live?

I thought it had a chance… until a few days later a careless tree-pruner scraped the tree’s skinny little trunk with his truck. The driver told me not to worry— I should simply rub some aloe on the injury. In my eagerness to heal the gash, I didn’t bother to check the scientific veracity of his advice. I bought some aloe and began rubbing salve on the tree’s wound. I started to care even more about it, making the aloe treatment part of my daily routine. This tree and I had bonded!

The little maple tree refused to participate in the ritual of fall. When the leaves on all the other trees were turning yellow and letting go, this tree’s leaves remained a vibrant green.  When a second snowfall weighed down its leaves and remaining branches, I did what I remembered my father doing: I got up in the middle of the night to shake the heavy snow off its limbs. Darn, I thought, as I donned my coat and boots — this stubborn little tree has won my heart.

It is a funny-looking tree, something for a page in a Dr. Seuss book. But I am rooting for it, cheering it on. Do you see how the tree is reaching out its branches to capture the sun, its resilient arms stretched out in a prayer of thanksgiving and hope for recovery? This is the spirit I want to embody… and this is the spirit I pray our nation adopts.

The year’s events have exposed some deep wounds and divides in our land, and like many of you, I have found myself more involved in attempts to shape the future course of our country than ever before. This has strangely deepened my relationship to this nation I love. Gazing out at my maple tree, I pray for the persistence and will to continue the work.

Creator God,
In the days to come, keep us rooted in our faith as we reach out for your sustaining light. Renew our strength as we grow and walk with those who seek justice and healing for our wounded nation.

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