A group of friends from my former job came and trimmed our hedge. We have a circular drive which has been bordered by a tall hedge for years. It needed trimmed. The lowest parts were chest high, maybe five feet. The tallest parts on the corner were over a foot taller. Yes, it needed trimmed badly.
The same men came last year (I really can’t do it myself – the strength and stamina are just not there) and trimmed about a third of the height off. This time they finished the second phase of the hard trim. It is now about two feet tall – and it looks … well … really ugly. Many people driving by probably think I killed it.
What they don’t know is that holly hedge is extremely durable. It is hard to kill, especially when well established like ours is. It was old when we bought our house nearly twenty-five years ago. It will grow back. Trust me. In about two weeks, new growth will begin to appear on the stumps and branches. When we return from Houston after my stem cell transplant, this hedge will be filling out nicely. By next summer, it will be ready for a simple haircut and will look absolutely beautiful.
Our hedge is a metaphor of life. A little over a year ago, I was administered a desperation dose of chemotherapy. It was an older drug that caused hair loss. I was bald for the first time ever (I had tons of hair as a baby). By mid fall of last year, it had grown back, curly and just a bit grayer. The chemo didn’t work, so we flew to Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. Treatment started that would hopefully get me ready for a stem cell transplant, the only nearly sure way to cure my Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. The trial drug ABT-199 did its job.
Beginning early in July, I will again be administered a powerful round of drugs designed to kill off any remaining white blood cells and my bone marrow in preparation for my transplant. I will go bald for the second time in my life. Like the holly hedge, my hair will grow back. This time something else will grow as well. My blood will no longer be the same. It will be someone else’s blood that flows through my body. I will claim it as my own. I will nurture it and in return it will save my life. When the trimming back is done, I will be stronger than ever. All it takes is time, faith, nurturing, and love.
The lesson I’ve learned from my hedge, my hair, and my blood is that sometimes we have to tear things down in order for them to grow back stronger. I’m talking about more than hair and blood now, folks. I’m talking about the trials that we face in our lives. It could be relationships, marriage, health, finances, possessions, family, friends, or most anything else. Sometimes what we have must be pruned in order for it to grow stronger, more beautiful.
The next time you hear the metaphorical hedge trimmers approach your life, glance upward and say something like, “Here am I, Lord. I know this is for my good though I may not be able to understand it now. Help me endure the pruning so I may be stronger.”