As I assess the garden, I find myself eager to cut it back. The fruit bushes look ratchet and hungover, but there’s still life there; it’s not time yet. I resign myself to watching it fall fast asleep yet another fall/winter.
As a garden keeper I understand the basic principles, like when to sow, reap, and prune. When it comes to pruning, there is a critical window in which to do it. That window is vital to the forthcoming production and harvest.
My grapevines can’t be cut until late winter, after the threat of deep freeze has passed. This ensures they are entirely done weeping. What merciful design, to delay pruning until it’s fully grieved its fruit and gone into dormancy. I find it intriguing that living things are put to sleep before being cut. We count backwards until we slowly lose consciousness, and then awaken to amputation. But that’s how we grow: from roots and stumps, to shoots and vines.
I’ve endured some deep pruning in my own life. In fact, the more fruitful one is, the more pruning to be had. It’s the secret to health, this whacking back of dead and dried up things. When they have served their purpose, they’re to be discarded. There is no merit in holding on to expired things; they impede the work of new things to come.
There is an allotted season for everything, especially the severe mercy that is pruning. It will always be die to live; there is no other or better way.