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.

FlowersWe’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.


with an earthbound angel, 
with man-made stars, 
but touched with no 
true gold, 
cropped, girdled 
with electricity— 
why be a temporary tree, 
glass-fruited, dry, 

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, 
be found in your shade, 
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.
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2 thoughts on “Evergreen

  1. corbynsmall says:

    shirley you have alliterated that phrase more than anyone on God’s green earth… and there’s no one else I know who can draw fresh and new meaning depending on the current season of life. You’re awesome Aly! (see what I did there?)

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