Today marks the 49th consecutive day without rain in Elgin, TX, and that is a problem for the 120 pine saplings we planted in January. Some have died from the heat and drought; others are struggling. Most remain green and supple, but they need a little help, and it is not coming from the sky. So for the past two weeks, my boys and I have been filling gallon buckets from our hose and lugging them across the pasture to our trees. It is hot work and time consuming, bringing life to those trees.
The labor reminds me of a lesson in prayer which I read roughly two decades ago. The teaching itself, from the writing of Teresa of Avila, is more than four centuries old. Teresa likens the soul to a garden which God plants and then beckons us to tend. Sometimes rain falls from heaven, a gift of consolation directly from God. However, God also sends dry spells which require some sweat and ingenuity on our part. Irrigation channels can be built to transport water. But when irrigation proves impossible, we must dip our buckets into the well and carry the water. It can be hard work tending the gardens of our souls, and we may become discouraged. When I am tempted to sloth, I remember my dead trees.