I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. ---John 15:1
This morning I said to my daughter, maybe I will take a walk to see if the buds have begun to blossom on the ume tree. (Note: Ume = 梅 = Plum, hence Ume Tree=Plum Tree; "ume" is pronounced "oo-may") Note: Plum trees are the first fruit trees to blossom here in Japan, several months before Cherry Blossom trees)
It's almost Tu B'Shevat! (The New Year for Trees!)
I want to see the first blossom this year!
I looked out the window to see if I could see if the ume tree was starting to bloom.
In my natural mind, I knew that there is no way that from six flights up and what would be equal in distance to a few blocks away, there is no way I could see if a bud turned into a blossom, as they would just appear a tiny dot to the eye either way, but somehow I looked anyway.
Indeed I couldn't see if there was a bud or a blossom, but what I did see clearly in the branches was that there was a man in the ume tree!!
Just to confirm what I saw with a word spoken outloud, I said to my daughter, who was getting ready to go out,
"There's a man in the ume tree!".
She said "Oh" or something like that, though she didn't exactly jump from what she was doing to see the man.
But quickly I knew this was an adventure that was calling me to attend to and that I had better get dressed and up and out quickly, as one doesn't know how long a man will stay in a tree these days!!
I grabbed the second challah that I made for Shabbat, sensing I might have found the one to give it to this week. (Note: in all the excitement of seeing fruits in season this month, I forgot to mention something, which is that this year I decided I want to give a challah to someone each week at Shabbat, as a way to begin sharing the Shabbat. Even if no one around us knows what Shabbat is. I received a great Challah book from my sister for my birthday in the end of the year, and the writer said she always makes extra challah to give away to someone each Shabbat and she prays about who to give it to. As that is something that I had been thinking about too, I had a challah ready to give).
Ok, back to the Ume Tree and the Man. I ran down the back way six flights down and into the Castle grounds---of course, all adventures God sent are in the Castle grounds, as He is the King!---excitedly making my way past some construction workers with flags, and around the corner and stone walls, into where I could see--- the tree, a truck, and indeed, a man!! But he was no longer in the tree. He was standing back some meters away from the tree, checking his work.
From the truck and the tools and the rake, it became clear that he had been pruning the tree.
(Yes, daughters of the King, pruning! take note! John 15, our King is also a great Gardener!)
I tried to look casual, and not let on that I came here to see Him. Though of course He knows everything, so that was a pointless thing to try to hide.
I smiled and said something about the buds almost blossoming.
He smiled with his head in a humble bow and continued his work of loading the discarded branches onto his truck. I looked in the branches and saw a few had buds, and asked if I could have one of the branches . He said, sure, and looked thru them but said none were flowering. Then he looked like he had an idea.
"I will cut one for you!" He said.
He went to the tree, and looked for the right one, cut it with a swift and knowing hand, and handed it to me. A light from heaven shined on the moment of his handing it to me. I received it with thanks.
He told me to put it in water, and the flowers will open.
He finished his work and strapped the ladder onto the back of the truck. He said goodbye to me.
I was about to say goodbye to him, when...
I remembered the challah! I had prayed before for the right moment to give it to him, and it looked like this was my chance.
I went around to the side of the truck where he was getting in. I asked if he would so kindly accept this bread. At first he said, no , no, please nothing is necessary to give him. I said, I know, but ...today is a very special day where I am from, and I wanted to give it to him.
He accepted it, and reached out his hands to receive it,
I brought my hands towards him to give it.
In that moment, both of our hands were on the bread,
and for the second time a divine light shone on the moment.
He got in the truck and drove off with the pruned branches and the challah.
I turned back to sit a little longer and held the little branch he gave me, and went to finish my drawing. I saw that the branch he gave me echoed the tree itself. It was like a little cutting from the big tree. Then I heard the voice of our Father in Heaven. He said, it is. Because we are from Him, and we are created in His image. And the one who shows us this, the one who is the ladder from Heaven and Earth, is always wanting to show us that.
"If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. In this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."
"Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love!"
---John 15:7~8, 9
I held the branch. And brought it home, put it in water.
And propped up the drawing with the words,
"Thank you Father"
|When I saw this photo after I took it, I noticed the way the curve in the tree echoes the curve in the man the way his pose was! Like in a Van Gogh painting!|
|the Gardener and the Ume tree|
|He said He would cut a branch to give to me|
The little ume branch is on my Shabbat table today.
Happy almost Tu B"Shevat!!
PS NOTES: For other posts on the Ume Tree and Tu B'Shevat on this blog, see HERE