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Cutting me down to size

Dear husband does bonsai - those little Japanese trees.  When people unfamiliar with the art see one of his trees for the first time, they have two questions:  "Is that real?" and "Do they just grow like that?" 

Yes, and most definitely no.

You can make just about any tree into a bonsai tree, although some trees are much easier to work with than others.  We joke that the art of bonsai is buying a $200 tree, lopping off $175 worth and then selling it for $400.  It does take time, practice, patience and a lot of effort.  You trim the tree and let it rest, trim it and let it rest.  It's a rush of anxious activity and then dormancy.  It's a very real tree, with a lot "done to it".

In essence, you must harm the tree.  You have to cut off branches and roots, make the tree grow in a way that is unnatural and that the tree is not necessarily willing to go.  This is exactly what God does with us.  He trims us and prunes  us, makes us stretch and grow in ways we never wanted to or thought we could, lets us rest and pushes us towards our ideal selves.  We could never do this ourselves - we don't have the perspective to stand back and see where we need the most work, and where we need to be left alone.  Only our Creator sees us this way.

In the Catholic Church, when we see someone who has lived his or her life in the most beautiful and authentic way, we call them "saints".  These are the people who have stretched and grown, been patient with the trimming and pruning God did, and allowed themselves to be created day-after-day.  If we ask, "Is that person real?", the answer is "yes":  he or she is human, with sins and sorrows.  And just like with bonsai, if we ask,  "Did they grow like that?", the answer is "no" - it took time, patience and effort, and the Master hand of God.

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