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How will you direct your energies towards that which gives life?

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Watch: How will you direct your energies towards that which gives life?
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Transcript of Video:

Well, I think a helpful metaphor for giving things up is pruning. The reason plants are pruned is to, number one, sometimes give them shape, a better form visually. But it also redirects growth. If you prune a branch from a tree or a shrub or a vine, it will actually stimulate growth in another direction. So the monastic life is about saying no to some things in order that our energies can be directed in other directions. The vows, especially celibacy and poverty, are about saying no to certain things – and saying no to partnerships and sexuality expressed with others is a way of directing generative energies in other directions. Saying no to the acquisition of wealth and property is a way of experiencing life in community and sharing everything one has with other people, and not being distracted by the need to acquire wealth and status and power in those terms.

– Br. Mark Brown

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21 Comments

  1. Jaan Sass on March 15, 2017 at 12:23

    There are a lot of areas I need to prune I guess first I need to deal with to many tasks that keep me from accomplishing anything. Weed them out and then prune what is left.

  2. Linda on June 20, 2016 at 07:52

    I am going into a more monastic mindset, because it feels good, it brings peace, I like it. That is the energy that brings life because it is the truth that keeps me focused on Christ. I have seen some fruit. Last night I had righteous anger for something. Normally, anger would make me binge eat. I thought I binged a little, but when I went to count my calories, I had only gone over by 100 calories whereas a real binge would have been 1,000. The pruning may be painful though, because I am going to lose some friends I feel. I may not but I think I am. Following my rule is upsetting them because they like their sins and I’m on a journey to purge mine if I can. I just with I could always be peaceable and pleasant to people, but I am not interpreted that way.

  3. Debbie on March 29, 2016 at 16:55

    Selfless giving. When it is for the benefit of someone. Living a life that is to the better ment of that person. Over and above self serving needs of self.

  4. Betsy on March 20, 2016 at 11:43

    For me these words generate lots of ideas and questions. First, thank you for making the connection between pruning and redirection. In my life what needs to be pruned so growth may occur in another area? What soil will compliment that growth and make it possible? Who will support and encourage? Is this process taking root in others? If so, how can I best nourish and be present to what is developing in its own time? Affirm that growth is occuring and entrust the Gardener with the process and results.

  5. Eugene Wright on March 18, 2016 at 00:18

    After pruning all excess and unnecessary behaviors like procrastination, I would spend more time in commune with God. Pray regularly and often without ceasing. Read and meditate on scripture daily. Memorize and fortify myself with the armor of God’s word.

  6. Kristi on March 17, 2016 at 21:14

    In the outdoors it’s simple for me- I garden as soon as the weather allows because I love to plant and nurture new life and watch it grow throughout the season. Doing so just makes me feel like I’m a part of creation that has been given to us and yet I can nurture it in my own small way With my own contributions.
    In other ways I try to help and give back to others to make small differences in their lives both in my job and outside of my work. I love to volunteer, give support to those in need, and nurture my students. By participating in this program, I feel like I’m nurturing my own life and helping it grow in a new and spiritually deep way.

  7. susan zimmerman on March 17, 2016 at 20:35

    …pruning my grapevine Saturday

  8. Russell on March 17, 2016 at 16:51

    First, I need to discern what I might offer that is life-giving. The description of “pruning” I have also heard called “purging.” As I have said before, the Gardener is the pruner. I can, however, decide what to purge from my own life to allow for more fulfilling and life-giving energy to grow. Clearly, preoccupation with worldly things is a key element to purge. And perhaps this is not a full out disposal, but rather an intentional and careful discarding of distractions, worries, compulsions that tear me down and draw me away from the Kingdom. Then, the energy I lost in these activities can flow towards compassion, healing, community and contemplation.

  9. Muriel Akam on March 17, 2016 at 15:46

    I am not sure what I need to prune but i am putting my trust in God to show me. I need to be a little more energetic and forge forward but reluctant to put make mistakes and prune out the wrong parts. I will know what to do- I trust in Him.

  10. a city monk on March 17, 2016 at 11:43

    very grateful….
    I am discovering how I am expressing discontent. And this garden metaphor helps give me language to describe my blindness, my denial.

    Aggiornamento – bringing up to date… letting go of the old me and opening my heart to the new me…

    A zone 8b- or nearly 9 garden requires a letting go of what I knew about gardening, about the plants that grow in the upper zones of much different climates and much different seasons and soil conditions… I am stuck in memories and keep insisting that what was hearty and fruitful MUST be so here, now, in the present.

    actually happened yesterday… off to Sears to get a new Craftsman hose on warranty. They are unkillable so admitting this one had died took a long time. I brought in the two ends and the original wrapper. The clerk said… we need the whole hose. I said, I am 70 do you really want me to go home and wrestle 75 feet of old hose into trash bag or something and bring it in.
    Zone 8b me! They figured out how to do the warranty. Got a new hose off the shelf. And when the clerk asked… do you want help carrying it out to the car? I actually said yes, please, thank you. I have never allowed someone to help me get something to the car.
    As she came through the door, spool of hose on her shoulder, I smiled and said, I remember being able to do that. Thank you so much!
    10 yards of gourmet mulch delivered via dumb truck yesterday, to spread atop the yards of garden cloth we’d been intending to spread for 3 winters. I’d helped spread the cloth and had to admit it was too much. Up comes the mulch truck and we trusted him to pull up to the very edge and dumb it on the garden. Lo he had the skill to do precisely that! Praise God, no crushed garden! Much easier to spread. Last time, we filled 5 gallon buckets and spread it evenly (13 yards)… one bucket at a time. I successful persuaded the purchase of a wheel barrow with balance and depth — no admitting to needing help getting it into the back of the car and unloaded. The mulch, even with the deluxe wheel barrow will take days to spread. We both see each other as we were… not as we are! Decades without even a hint of needing help. And now…
    aggiornamento in the garden… everyone talks about pruning but how do I prune denial of the reality of the present and clinging to the nostalgia of the past?
    There is a change of climate… and I’ve spent too many years trying to green the desert. Anthony and Charles Foucauld are my gardening mentors… I keep waiting for the climate to change to become more temperate when I’m the one who needs to change to become more temperate, less demanding, less judgmental, more forgiving of today weakness that were once strengths. Sigh…

    very
    grateful

    Father,
    I abandon myself into your hands;
    do with me what you will.
    Whatever you may do, I thank you:
    I am ready for all, I accept all.

    Let only your will be done in me,
    and in all your creatures –
    I wish no more than this, O Lord.

    Into your hands I commend my soul:
    I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
    for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
    to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
    and with boundless confidence,
    for you are my Father.

    Charles de Foucauld

    • a city monk on March 26, 2016 at 22:56

      on this Holy Saturday… we planted the little Christmas tree we received last Christmas…
      Pulled back the gourmet mulch and peeled up the garden cloth… and lo! Already God’s great gardeners… worms! are busy improving the soil as it rests. Big worms, baby worms, bugs, and scurry things unnamed… life happening while the garden rests…

      very grateful…
      truly very very grateful

  11. Betty Donahue on March 17, 2016 at 09:21

    My life needs a lot of pruning to get closer to God and nurture my life… I need to limit my food and drink intake and I need to turn my emotions away from those who drain my emotions and Jack or me for what they can gain I turn away and “prune” them from my life- And whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.Father, please give me wisdom to know the best way to share the message of Jesus with all those that I know who are not yet Christians. Father, I recognize that only you can break down the barriers Satan erects in the hearts of those who reject your message. Help me know when it is best to move on and leave that work to you. In the lives of those near and dear to me, please use my daily faithfulness as one of the influences used to win their hearts for Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

  12. Neil Ellis Orts on March 17, 2016 at 08:06

    There are ways that I feel like there’s a lot I’ve already given up and still need pruning. Well, I suppose most fruit trees need it regularly and repeatedly, too.

    I find myself freezing up on this question. When I pause to think about why, I think it returns to an ancient problem—fear of death. Even though I know I won’t literally die if I give up X, Y, or Z, I’m afraid of what part of me might die and be unrecoverable.

    And yet the question is about what gives life. I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the fact that the question is about what gives ME life, but what gives life to you, to the community, to the world. I am part of an ecosystem that does not exist for me and ultimately we all must give our lives to sustain it into the future.

    I thin I’ve written myself into some clarity about one thing stirring in my brain these days. Funny how typing in a stream of consciousness into a public forum might do that to you.

    I haven’t exactly answered the question, though, have I? Step one: secure the meeting room at the library . . .

    • Dorothy P. on March 17, 2016 at 09:50

      Your last words remind me of that saying, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” I also appreciate the reminder that writing can be a way to bring clarity. Journaling was one of my “seeds” back when we started but I have not been disciplined enough to keep it going. This is motivation to take up the practice in earnest. Thanks.

    • Mryka on March 17, 2016 at 10:59

      This is important to me right now as I transition slowly from work to retirement and am freed to do things for purposes other than institutional priorities. My experience says that things that give me life are not necessarily what is needed by others in the ecosystem (as you put it so well) at this moment. Yet if I do things that are only for the system or others in it, I may well be drained of life (or at least immediate energy) to the point that I can n o longer do anything much for anybody or any reason. When I was younger I was always told to “power through” or “tough it out” and I tend to feel very guilty – as well as paralysed further – when I say “no, I can’t” which I hear as “no, I won’t”. This is a huge problem for me as an extreme introvert in a church community that is very extroverted. I have thought that I can serve others as an introvert by prayer, but then I get asked to lead prayer workshops and participate in them and try to convince people that they can really take 20 minutes of solitude by putting down their phones – me, who was never happier than doing field work n remote areas for weeks at a time with no contact with people whatsoever!

  13. Bill Spies on March 17, 2016 at 07:37

    By focusing on helping others, giving my time and talents to those in need.

  14. Jim V on March 17, 2016 at 06:46

    Room and space need to be created. That means identifying things that are not giving life or are just business and saying no to them or deprioritizing them for life giving choices.
    The question is what needs to go? I think these meditations have done a lot to reveal what should be added and I am keen to do so. An examination of the life-sucking practices are in order.

    • Dorothy P. on March 17, 2016 at 09:45

      Your “life-sucking practices” made me smile. It’s true though that some things we feel we have to do only drain us of life and have no discernible benefit other than fulfilling that “have to” urge. Time for Spring cleaning.

  15. Suzanne on March 17, 2016 at 06:40

    To say a prayerful ‘no’ to what drains my energies and a prayerful ‘yes’ to the rest.

  16. Jane on March 17, 2016 at 06:24

    Pruning, literally of my fig tree, helps me visualize this. I look at the pruned tree and it looks so bare and small now. I saved the ends of the pruned branches, the ones with new green buds, and hope the tree will respond with new growth. So I suspect that figurative pruning of the areas in my life to which I must say “no” could have the effect at least in the short term of my feeling smaller and vulnerable too. So it will be my faith that will help me see beyond the immediate moment to a more bountiful time. Thanks be to God!

    • Sonja Scott on March 17, 2016 at 07:14

      I love your response. It is difficult for me to feel small and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing.

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