A Charlie Brown Christmas has long been a favorite of mine for its lighthearted humor and moving spiritual message. It’s the character Pigpen who cracks me up the most; how can he stir up a cloud of dust while ice skating and building a snowman? Surely that’s impossible! But my favorite scene is where Linus explains the meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown; that always puts a lump in my throat. Recently, a brother observed that when Linus speaks about Christ the Lord, he drops his security blanket to the floor and clasps his hands over his heart. So simple. So meaningful. So beautiful.
So why am I writing about Charlie Brown Christmas when it’s the end of January, you ask? Do you remember Charlie Brown’s reaction when he hung an ornament on the Christmas tree and it doubled over?
Our Italian prune tree was sick and covered with lichens. My Dad planted it some 15 years ago with a modest layer of beauty bark over black weed barrier cloth. Soon after, mom had a stroke and dad was unable to tend to it what with the round-the-clock care mom required.
Neglected for years, the bark decomposed, weeds grew through the fabric, and lichens infested nearly every branch. Gardening sites claim lichens do no harm to trees but there are several bordering our property where lichens completely covered them and they died, most notably the native bitter cherry trees that grow among the evergreens.
I removed the landscape fabric, then laid down several sheets of newsprint, followed by 6-8” of freshly ground mulch extending out to the drip line of the tree. Karen and I then spent several moments examining the tree up close and walked around to determine how best to prune it. Once pruned, we removed the lichens by running our gloved hands over the bark.
Perhaps it seems silly, but as we worked we talked to the tree, even praying over it as we laid hands on it. I would never have considered such a thing in the past, as the “laying on of hands” is something I viewed as applicable only for people. That’s right, I’m the kind what rolls his eyes whenever someone says they laid hands on their broken-down car or clogged kitchen sink. Even though right there in Genesis chapter 1, the Creator spoke to His creation before there was a man. So I’ve been schooled! OK? 😉
Though I did my best after watching Paul Gautschi trim trees on YouTube and in a live demonstration at his home, it looked a fright after pruning it and I groaned “I’ve killed it!” Karen reassured me with something Paul said about all the growth his trees experience the next season after pruning in January. But it was what the Holy Spirit impressed me with that was the most comforting.
After connecting with the Creator, the first principle of Back to Eden gardening is to “apply the covering”; specifically “God’s covering”. And so in applying God’s covering to our Italian prune tree, I have turned responsibility for it back to God. With that revelation, I felt relieved of any burden for how it heals, grows, and bears fruit in the future.
So what’s the first thing the Charlie Brown gang did for the doubled-over little tree? Linus took his security blanket and wrapped it around the base of the tree for “a covering”.
I’m confident we’ve done all we can for our Italian prune tree and have left it in the more than capable hands of the Creator.
Truly I am excited to see what our Father does with it.
New growth! The photos below were taken May 8, 2017.