The Parable of Deadheading

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away;
and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
(John 15:2)

If the Scriptures were to be written today, perhaps there would be references to how God would want us to behave in traffic, how to plan our calendars, or how to engage media.  Instead, we have scriptures with references to gathering water, walking on a journey, shepherding, harvesting, tending vines,..

Though many of these images are foreign to our lifestyles, they continue to speak to us millennia later.

Parables – employing everyday scenarios to teach us about God’s desire for our lives and God’s presence in our lives – are genius.  We can creatively extrapolate out the meaningful teachings for today even in ancient writings.  Thank you, Holy Spirit for your companionship in the creative listening!

The gardening practice of deadheading plants, for example, is a task that can speak to each and all of us—if we have ears and hearts to hear.  Most plants that bloom will benefit from careful tending by the gardener.  When deadheading a plant, a gardener snips off spent blooms.  Plants grow, set blooms, bloom, and the bloom turns to seed for the potential for another plant to grow from that seed.  With many of the blooming plants in our landscapes, more blooms are encouraged when plants are dead-headed.  Thereby, a plant is able to expend less energy creating and sustaining a seed head and can divert energy to new growth.

To be sure, it’s a tedious chore.  When deadheading, the gardener has to take care not to nick the wrong stems.  It can be discouraging–where the more you remove, the more you see that needs to be removed.

But, be patient!  In a few weeks, it’s noticeable and can be breath-taking: when the well-tended plant is full of blooms again.

Yes, perhaps in our world today (where gardening is a more popular task than cultivating grapes), Jesus would resort to a parable about dead-heading… and the benefits of a few choice cuts on a rose bush.

To paraphrase and adapt words from Browning:

Earth is crammed with heaven–
and every bush a village of deadheads.
But, only those who have eyes to see
take off their shoes
and ponder the essential prunings.

I wonder what Jesus would deadhead
from my life to benefit my ability to bloom and grow?

posted by Kathy Reiter on April 22, 2021


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