I was honored to be part of Brandon and Bharti’s wedding last Sunday. This wonderful celebration took place under a giant fig tree that is over 100 years old. When it was time for me to offer my remarks, I couldn’t help but be inspired by this magnificent tree. Here is a summary of what I said:
There are many ways to appreciate a tree. We can admire its strength, height and width and how it provides shade and shelter for us. We can marvel at the extension of its root above the ground. We can see that there were branches that had been broken off and yet the tree continues to grow with new branches next to it. We can appreciate the many fruit it bears.
But these are only the external things that we can see of a tree. What makes up a tree that is over 100 years old involves many other things. There is the earth through which the roots of the tree can hold the tree up above. The earth works with the water and feeds the tree through its root system. Then there is the air and the sun interacting with the leaves though the photosynthesis process giving us fresh air to breath. A tree is not just a tree. It has to interact and be supported by all of these other elements. When a tree is established and strong, it can withstand many things and still stay strong. If we have a drought, for example, this tree will survive because its roots reach very deep into the ground to find water down there. If there is a big storm and many of its branches are broken off, it will survive and sprout new branches. This tree is sustainable because of all the elements surrounding it, making it strong.
There are many ways to appreciate a wedding. We can admire the beautiful couple and their friends in the wedding party. We can see the beautiful flowers and decorations, wonderful food and the delicious wedding cake. But what makes a strong marriage involves not just the love between two persons getting married. It involves their families and their friends. They are the ones who are like the earth, the water, the air and the sun that will nurture their relationship allowing their love for each other to grow deep roots keeping their marriage strong.
And when marriage needs to weather a storm – perhaps an emotional one or a physical one – the marriage will stay sustainable because of friends and family surrounding the couple.
Responding to our call to create sustainable communities is like a marriage; we make a commitment to a sustainist way of living. In order for our commitment to be nurtured and become strong, we need to discern our call with our family and friendship network. How does our family and friendship network connect and support us? What do we need to do to get our network involved in this call?
Invite members of your community to gather and explore how their families and friends can be part of their discernment and commitment to their call to ministry:
Reflection Questions for Proper 5 (Year B)
1 Samuel 8:4-20
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Eric H. F. Law
For competent leadership in a diverse changing world
Upcoming Opportunities to Study with The Sustainist:
Kaleidoscope Summer Institute: Missional Ministry in the Grace Margin, Holy Currencies and Community Transformation
St. Paul’s Cathedral Center, Los Angeles, CA
Holy Currencies: Creating Sustainable Missional Ministries
Rainbow Lodge Retreat Center, North Bend (near Seattle), WA
Register at: www.kscopeinstitute.org