[Jesus] replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots." ~Matthew 15:13Little Men.
Not so little. And not yet men. Waging war with Old Stump.
I'm watching them, their spring-sun-bronzed hands gripping Old Stump, who was a decades old plum tree until death came, and Husband cut it down. Their arms strain, pulling at shoulder sockets. They rock back and forth, and though I can't hear through the kitchen window, I see lips forming grimaces, chests heaving grunts.
One runs to the shed for a pry bar, his anxious gait betraying the confidence he feels that this, this will finally work. Will finally loose deep roots from the earth, though they anchor yards away from Old Stump.
But as they trap pry bar between roots and strain, taking turns pushing and pulling, still it does not move.
At lunch, hunched over sandwiches and chips, gulping glasses of milk, they murmur quietly; constructing plans, pumping up energy, encouraging each other with slaps on the back.
But soon the afternoon is spent, and so are they.
And Old Stump still stands. Hatcheted, deceptively shortened and weakened above the earth, long and hardy below.
I join them at their work, hands on hips, estimating how best to grip, how to ease their work with my grown-up strength. Perhaps I can loose it, provide a second wind for my little men.
It is laughable how very much I grunt and how very little I budge Old Stump. They pat my arm and thank me though, and I step back, obviously too weak for the work, yet I have a captive audience (or simply exhausted), and so I am not wordless.
Sons, send your roots deep. When you pray, pray for this. Ask your God to strengthen you, to anchor your life in Him. When you are challenged, when the task is overwhelming, you are sending roots deep. And again, when you are shaken, pried, kicked, hatcheted... those roots will hold. Pray for this.
I kiss grubby cheeks and step back to the house. To my work, to send roots deep in building quiet strength that comes from refining repetition, for this is how the work is perfected. I suppose.
And I watch from the window as my little men struggle, then quietly enter the house at dusk. The fresh air of play and work has brushed their cheeks with sun and sweat; I eye them closely to see what roots have been sent deep this day.
When Husband offers his solution- a trench of dead pine needles surrounding Old Stump and set with fire- little men slump momentarily, and I wonder if this signals failure to them, if roots that were sent out in the afternoon are curling up in resignation.
We sleep on it.
And next day, the shouting and sparkling eyes and knocks on the door for a second calzone and more marshmallows for the fire that blazes- they are not defeated.
And middle son reminds me of why. Mama. The stump is gone. But the roots are still there!
I gaze, wondering, out kitchen window. The roots are still there.
Remember, Mama? I remember. Yes, son. And I will remember, too.
When I pray, I will pray for this.
At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant. ~Job 14:7-9