Back in February 1978, Fr. Thomas asked me to stay full-time at the Lord’s Ranch and learn how to prune trees. There were nearly two thousand apple trees and a thousand grapevines that needed to be pruned. There was also a smaller amount of a variety of fruit trees.
Father got a professor from Texas A&M University to teach us how to prune grapevines, and he brought out Dr. Sullivan from New Mexico State University to teach us the art of pruning fruit trees. So for weeks and weeks, from dawn to dusk, we pruned fruit trees and grapevines.
Pruning means drastic cutting if you want the trees to bear fruit in the future. What I remember most was how much had to be cut off the grapevines. The wood from last year would not produce this year, and it all had to come off. Before pruning what looked liked a snarly mess of branches, when finished looked like only 2-4 arms of clean branches that were tied neatly onto wires. The remaining branches had to be trained in the way they should grow. This was done by tying the grapevine branches to the wire and for the fruit trees by placing wooden spreaders between the branches. Years later we literally did see the “fruit” of our labor.
However, the connected branches must remain firmly attached to the main vine (or the tree trunk) that was solidly in the ground bringing nourishment to the branches. If that was not so, the branches would obviously die.
Jesus says in John 15:1-5, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruit….No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
All the pruning I did, and saw others do, brought this scripture alive for me and continues to do so.
First, we have to stay connected to Jesus through prayer and his word. He desires to be close to us and nourish us. We need to spend time with him so we will have that bond. This is vital to our spiritual life.
Second, we need to let him prune us, and that is often times painful. He prunes us through trials, hardships, relationships, sickness, and more. If we resist we will not grow nor produce fruit. He prunes us to make us holy and fruitful.
We do not produce the fruit. Jesus produces the fruit. Our job is to hold tight to Jesus and be willing to let him prune us of our sins and our own will. There is no way we can do it by ourselves. We will not bear fruit, and we will wear out. Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Without Christ, we will be the cut off branches.
I encourage you to watch a video of pruning to help you understand this allegory that Jesus gives us.
Let’s work at keeping up our prayer life and grow through the trials of life with abandonment and perseverance. Clearly, apart from Jesus we can do nothing but connected to Jesus there is no limit! Miracles, conversions, healing, liberation, and wonderful things we cannot imagine will happen again and again! Praise the Lord!
God bless you,
Mary Ann / Mother Hen