Today I want to share a poem by one of my favorite poets who doesn’t happen to be T.S. Eliot, but Luci Shaw.
We’re on the cusp of the rainy season here in Guatemala. Last week, a thick, smoky haze settled over the sky from the pre-harvest burning of sugar cane fields over on the coast. Some days, the clouds roll in and spit out a little water, but the real downpours, the real rain-everyday-until-everything-you-own-is-moldy season hasn’t started yet. But it’s coming, it’s definitely coming.
We’ve just planted new flowers in our garden, confident that they’ll thrive and bloom with the rains to come. I think of the seeds I want to sow in my own life–the seeds of friendship and growth and hope–and ache to be confident that they will bloom into full-fledged flowers, too.
And I was reminded of this poem, Evergreen, by Luci Shaw. It’s actually a Christmas poem, about a tinsel-strewn Christmas tree and piney-scented evergreens. But she writes a phrase that rings through me here on the cusp of planting season: planted with purpose.
I’ve done a lot of work with an organization called Plant With Purpose. In fact, I was a part of the team that helped come up with the name. I’ve punned and alliterated the heck out of that phrase. But I had never once thought of myself as the object being planted with purpose.
I’d never thought of the phrase in the context of Jeremiah 17:8:
“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Or Psalm 1:3
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.”
Without further ado, here’s the poem and an invitation to ponder what it would mean for you to be planted with purpose, tapping in to the water of life, and bearing the Spirit’s sweetest fruits. Enjoy.
Topped with an earthbound angel, burdened with man-made stars, tinsel-draped, but touched with no true gold, cropped, girdled with electricity— why be a temporary tree, glass-fruited, dry, uprooted? When you may be planted with purpose in a flowered field, and where, living in clean light, strong air, crowned with gold of every evening every night real stars may nest in your elbow, rest be found in your shade, healing in your perennial green, and from deep springs your roots may suck enough to swell within you the Spirit’s sweetest fruits. Taken from Luci Shaw's, Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation.