A Tree Stripped of its Leaves

I love that Brother Lawrence’s conversion was accomplished through nothing more than noticing a tree stripped of its leaves in winter.  He is like the Zen master who reaches enlightenment when a tile falls off the roof.  Of course, for Brother Lawrence the tree is an image of resurrection – the repeated nature of resurrection and, necessarily, the repeated nature of death.  But instead of leading Brother Lawrence to a lifelong exploration of this ongoing process of death and resurrection, the tree stripped of its leaves mainly leads him to look for God in all things and all moments, most particularly mundane things and moments.  This is enough for Brother Lawrence, this continual call and exploration of what it means to pay attention and stay in communion with God.

A Tree Stripped of its Leaves, KPB Stevens, Chinese Brush Painting with Digital Image, 2017

Here is the text that accompanies this prayer card:

During that winter, upon seeing a tree stripped of its leaves and considering that within a little time the leaves would be renewed and after that the flowers and fruit appear, Brother Lawrence received a high view of the Providence and Power of God which has never since been effaced from his soul… He said we ought to quicken and enliven our faith. It was lamentable we had so little. Instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, people amused themselves with trivial devotions which changed daily. He said that faith was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection. We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of God’s will. Whether God led us by suffering or by consolation all would be equal to a soul truly resigned.

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