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I”ve spent some time yesterday and the day before picking up branches under one of our large maple trees. I hope that today I will complete the task and be able to rake and then cut the grass under that tree. We’ve had an inordinate amount of shedding going on this spring, mostly because of the heavy winds of the past few months. Some of the branches could be mistaken for trees themselves because they are so very large. As I drag them to a pile on the edge of our property, I sometimes wonder what made them separate from the tree as many of them seem strong and not at all diseased. People would say that it’s just the way of things in nature: they live, are nourished by their root system and then they die – either from a weather event or just old age.

Clearing the branches makes me more aware of the gifts of the trees to our ecosystem and to me. Beauty, shade and release of necessary gasses as they breathe are notable reasons to be grateful, as is the shelter they provide for the birds. Interestingly, today the gospel is the familiar “vine and branches” reading from John that speaks to us of our connection to one another and to God. And that is perhaps the greatest lesson of all.