Living Arts Weekly: Observing and Guiding

April 18, 2021

Accept the children the way we accept trees – with gratitude, because they are a blessing – but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change; you love them as they are.

— Isabel Allende

Recently, I visited my brother and sister to prune fruit trees at their house; they have three apple trees and a four-fruit tree. The trees had been pruned before, but everyone in their households is novice to the task so the trees needed some help. After only three or four years of tending the orchard at Rose Rock where we were teaching ourselves to prune, it is still a fairly new skill for me, too, but I love it.

I took time to observe each tree from many angles, including on and off a step ladder. I paid close attention to the size of twigs or branches, the type and directions of buds. I imagined where each limb would be extending in the coming years, providing it balance and strength. I imagined how we would want the tree to be oriented for maximum fruit production and easy harvesting. Pruning each tree was a meditative reflection. I love taking time to “listen” to the trees while doing this. I am gentle in my cultivation of their growth, mostly stay out of the way to allow nature the charge of its course. I am in awe of their ways, and love watching them transform over the years. At the end of my work, I was blissful.

My sister was helping me while tending her yard, so I shared with her how much I love pruning the trees, and she made the perfect observation. She said simply, “It’s like childcare.” And, my gosh, is she right! I could take that sentence- “I am gentle in my cultivation of their growth, mostly stay out of the way to allow nature the charge of its course.”- and insert it directly into an article about childcare alone!

Observing from many perspectives and truly listening to our children is practically paramount to guiding them with true love. Most of the time we really do need to step out of the way and allow childhood the freedom it needs to do its “job” of ushering our children into a fulfilling adulthood. Along the way, we must carefully cultivate and bring balance as we realize their strengths and listen to messages from their angels.

If we don’t take the time to pay close attention, slow down and listen, we run the risk of over-pruning. If we let them run wild without guidance of boundaries, they become neglected and then become wild and unproductive adults. But take the time to be intentional, and our hard work becomes a wondrous journey of watching them transform over the years.

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