“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”

Pope Francis

We are blessed to live alongside a walking/biking trail. The folks we bought the house from planted a line of emerald arborvitae against the majority of the fence to provide some privacy. While it’s nice to see the trail activity on a beautiful day, it’s also nice to have a little wall. A few months ago, I noticed that one of the trees was beginning its fall transition. Then another. Then I remembered that they were evergreens and not supposed to turn brown. As the two trees got browner and thinner, I tried to feed them. I tried to water them. I even thought about spray paint. It was clear they were not going to last, but I couldn’t figure out how to replace them. If I planted new arborvitaes, they would look odd compared to the fully grown ones. If I took them out, there’d be this gaping hole that would look ridiculous. As the weeks went on, I’d pull into my driveway with my eyes fixated on the two brown eyesores. And then one day it was three. The bottom of the tree to the right began to brown. As I inspected the bottom closely, a regular jogger on the trail shouted out, "The hole won’t be as bad as whatever’s killing them." A chainsaw, some clippers, a shovel, and 2 hours later, my great wall of arborvitaes resembled my 7-year old’s smile without his two front teeth.

As I pulled into my driveway this week, I noticed that I didn’t notice the hole. I noticed first how green all the trees looked in the sunlight. I couldn’t help but think, in what other parts of my life and leadership am I leaving brown spots because I’m afraid of what the hole will look like? I may think I am keeping something intact, but am I really weakening the whole? Whether it’s a bad habit, a toxic relationship, or a decision I just can’t make, do I trust that the Lord will fill the emptiness left by the soul-sore I take the risk to remove? A hole is only dangerous if you don’t know it’s there. Prayers for what you might need to take out of your week to make room for Him.

by Daniel Cellucci

September 14, 2020

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