Last week I watched a man roam my neighborhood marking trees with fluorescent pink tape. Soon two other guys showed up, wearing helmets and wielding chainsaws. They selected and removed the lowest-hanging branches, and cut down one entire tree that bowed over a storm drain. Then the men ran all the scraps through a screaming chipper machine and swept the street free of leaves and sawdust.
Overgrown trees can be dangerous in violent winter storms. Brittle limbs tear down power lines, break windows, and damage property. Fallen leaves and twigs block drains and flood the frozen streets.
Overburdened trees cause damage and injury to themselves. The high winds of winter snap dry branches and split aged trunks. Trimming away heavy dead wood encourages the tree to expand and blossom in the spring.
Sometimes we have to remove the dead and heavy branches from our own lives. Over-cluttered spaces and schedules prevent us from reaching our full potential. Sometimes we need to reduce the burdens that hold us back and inhibit new growth.
This week I spent time clearing away the clutter that had accumulated in my office. I gave away books I will never read again. I sorted through overstuffed notebooks, tossed pages I no longer needed, and organized the rest into easily managed and findable files. I ran old receipts and documents through a screaming shredder machine. The space in my office is clearer, more open and organized, more conducive to thought, planning, and looking forward to the future.
Cutting back what we no longer need allows room for new expansion and life. When we periodically assess and eliminate the possessions or roles that that no longer encourage us, we make room for flourishing growth. When we are unencumbered by unneeded excess, we feel more ready to experience, explore, and learn something new.
What branches of your life could use pruning today? What could be eliminated to give you room to grow?