To read this morning's office, click here or see The Divine Hours, pp. 2235-236.
"Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion," our Morning Office Refrain tells us. But gracious in our Office includes being pruned, as Jesus says in the Reading.
Everyone has done this, so I did it: we had a Lilac bush that got out of hand and Kris thought it was time that I "pruned" it. I really didn't know what I was doing, but I had heard that you need to cut them way back, so I did. I pruned that puppy from a 7 foot bush into a 3 foot set of stubby branches. Kris thought it was a huge mistake, thinking that I had cut it back way too much. Knowing that I had no idea what I was doing, I quickly agreed with her and wondered if I had ruined the tree. I felt bad about that because I like the lilacs and the smell and the wren that hid itself under its protection.
But, sure enough, the next year it started to blossom. It sent out leaves, which relieved me some, and then out came some blossoms, and then we could smell their scent as we sipped evening tea on the screen porch. In the end, I felt a little puffy-chested about my accident of doing a good job of pruning.
Graciousness on God's part is like this: sometimes we are cut down to size by what we learn about ourselves, or by the talent we see in other people that makes ours look so pitiful, or when we come to terms with what we've accomplished or not accomplished, or singular events in life like missing an opportunity to share God's embracing grace with someone else or finking on an appointment because we were too preoccupied to remember that other people are in our world. When these things hit us, we realize that we are not all we are cracked up to be.
But we know that God is still gracious and will be forever because that is the way God is. God is "full of compassion" it says -- I'm glad because I need it, and it is that compassion that comes home to me just after being pruned down to the stubby branches.