John H. Vincent, an American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a leader of the Sunday school movement firmly believed in the significance of deep pruning whenever necessary and in those challenging times finding comfort and solace in knowing this higher truth: “My Father is the gardener.”
He once mentioned being in a large greenhouse where clusters of luscious grapes were hanging on each side. The owner of the greenhouse told him, “When the new gardener came here, he said he would not work with the vines unless he could cut them completely down to the stalk. I allowed him to do so, and we had no grapes for two years, but this is now the result.”
We must all go through a similar pruning process at different points of time in our lives. Sometimes, the pruning might be personal, sometimes professional. But unless we do it, we won’t be able to attain the peace, balance, and freedom that we truly desire and deserve.
Modern author Joshua Fields Millburn refers to this process as Subtractive Creation, taking inspiration from Michelangelo and other carving sculptors. In his website The Minimalists, he writes, “There will always be life’s excess, always more, always too many inputs bombarding us from every direction—but instead of abhorrent multitasking, instead of trying to get things done, we can make life more beautiful via subtraction… Sure, there’s an infinite amount of materials with which to build our lives—but sometimes the best way to build is to subtract. The best lives are often well-edited, carefully curated lives.”
Pruning might seem like a terrible procedure — you are destroying the beautiful vines and the gardener might appear as a heartless person cutting everything way. But what we forget is that the gardener is simply doing his job. And we can trust him because he has the gift of visualization and can easily see the future — he knows that the final outcome, without doubt, would be healthier and flourishing vines and a more abundant yield of scrumptious fruit.
Sometimes, we must go through short-term pain in order to accomplish long-term gain. The finest blessings that can only be attained when we are willing to tread the path of suffering and pay the price. And when the sorrow or pain in the pruning process becomes unbearable and the proverbial knife cuts too deep, we can comfort ourselves by having faith in the workings of the Higher Power, and trust that everything is working out for our highest good.