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What's That, Fr. Matt?

Trees in Summer

Posted by Fr. Matt Oprendek on with 2 Comments

When the outside temps feel like the inside of a self-cleaning oven, I REALLY appreciate our trees.  The trees lining our sidewalks, the seemingly rare ones in the middle of parking lots, and of course, the incredible trees of our city parks.  The moment you step into Central Park for example, you can immediately feel the temperature drop about 10 degrees.  For the gift of trees in the summer, I’m super grateful here.

The thing is about trees is that they’re long term.  When Hurricane Sandy took out some trees in the rectory yard, we eventually replanted some new ones. But our “problem” of lack of shade wasn’t fixed right away.  It still isn’t, in fact.  Our parish will spend several years nurturing these young trees: providing sun, soil, nutrients, and water — so that eventually they’ll become the kinds of trees that CAN offer shade.

That’s the thing when it comes to organic things: we can’t fix them; we can only nurture them. 

Relationships are also organic.  Whether it’s my relationships with my friends and family, or my relationship with God — when things seem broken, I’m realizing more and more that I have to seek to nurture, and not seek to fix.

For example, one day I realize I’m feeling anxious too often.  The “fix it” mentality says, “I’d better say a prayer.”  The “nurture it” mindset says, “I need to become a person of prayer.”

Or maybe this one: I notice my spouse and I keep having the same argument.  

The “fix it” mentality says, “Let me explain this better (and louder) so you’ll see how I’m right.”  (Or lemme get someone else involved to take my side here!)

The “nurture it” mindset says, “I wonder how we can trust and care for each other better so this subject doesn’t devolve into a stupid quarrel?”  Or maybe I ask,  “What’s going on underneath and what’s going on inside of ME that makes this subject push my buttons so much?”

Nurturing relationships takes time and persistence. It takes tools and patience.  It takes a long term view instead of a short term one.

And just like summer comes every year and heats things up, I know there will be difficulties and challenges that “heat things up” in my own life.  If I’ve nurtured my relationship with my friends and family, those people can help me get through it.

And if I’ve nurtured my relationship with God, it’ll be like those trees: a place of cool refreshment, right in the middle of my summer. 

Stay cool out there!


Fred Smith July 22, 2016 1:08pm

Wonderful analogy. Once you get to 366 (~7 years?), consider putting together a daybook?

Dorraine Russin July 22, 2016 1:25pm

Matt, this is wonderful. A great reminder how to get through life. I will have to remember this at work and with my family (if I ever see them) and friends. Most of all I have to remember to take care of me.