PRUNING trees in the orchard is an activity I enjoy. It is done in the quiet of winter and into the newness of spring. Branches that shoot straight up need to be cut out because even though they have many leaves in the summer, they bear very little fruit. Sometimes a chain saw must be used to remove branches that compete for sunlight with more productive ones.
There's another kind of pruning, though, that I have found to be a year-round activity. It is the pruning in thought that we do as we gain a higher, more spiritual concept of God and man through study of the Bible. Understanding that God is Spirit, is divine Mind, and that man is His spiritual idea and can only image forth the likeness of God has enabled me to prune out deceptive, unproductive thoughts. Sometimes what I am thinking super-ficially seems just fine--like the branch with all those leaves. In
the long term, however, some thoughts are unfruitful and so need removing. How do we know what thoughts to prune out? By looking to see what the foundation of the thought is. Or by watching for the fruit!
In the Bible, Paul told us what we yield--what the fruit is--as we turn to God for guidance. He writes in his letter to the Galatians: ``The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Spirit, God, forms and fashions His creation in His likeness. Spiritual man is the outgrowth of Spirit, as Christ Jesus taught, and we can claim this, our true heritage, right now. As God's offspring, man can only express Godlike qualities, such as gentleness and peace.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, reminds us to watch diligently what we are allowing to stay in our thought. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: ``In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one." We are given dominion to be led only by the one wise, loving Mind, God. And as we yield to God's direction, we are al so empowered to eliminate the suggestions that our spiritual growth could be hindered by some other branch.
Here's an example of how I learned this lesson. At one point I was dealing with a mobile home salesman who, in this case, wasn't being very honest. I knew that to be provoked or disgusted would be unproductive, so I was simply going to excuse myself and leave. This looked nice (like the leafy branch), but the only product gained would have been skepticism. So, before leaving I earnestly turned to God in prayer for my next step. The answer was to stay and not only listen but learn. And learn I did.
As I began prayerfully striving to see only the offspring of God, I discovered and appreciated the good I found. The belief that God's man could ever be separated from truthfulness was pruned out of my thought. Meekly, I began to realize that God is in control and I'm not on my own, having to outsmart immorality. There is no competition for light, nourishment, or care in God or the consciousness of Love. I was completely free from any resentful or hopeless feeling, and the next place the salesman took us
had a home that met our need perfectly.
The human mind may tempt us to believe man is limited, ignorant, or doomed, but we have been given authority to remove these unfruitful thoughts and identify ourselves as we truly are--as the children of God, Spirit. With the influence of divine Mind, God, we bring forth the fruits of spirituality. And the qualities of meekness, goodness, temperance, are more beautiful and profitable then the gemlike cherries hanging from the sunlit branches.