This week’s Gospel can be a hard one to hear when we realize the trees that are to be cut down are us if we fail to produce fruit. The season of Lent is a time of reflecting on how we live our lives so we’re to examine ourselves and then make improvements.
A few weeks ago, I read a saying of the Desert Fathers, which I knew was an art project waiting to happen. The saying equated the leaves of a tree to our ascetic practices and the fruit to our works. Of course, there was nothing to equate to the tree itself.
Because I write rather small, I decided to use this week’s psalm to be the trunk. I began with the roots and kept turning my journal as I added branches or thickened the trunk. This allowed me to enter into my art time with a prayer and center myself. Feel free to do that or just draw a trunk.
The next step is to add leaves while reflecting on what your spiritual practices are. The best way to answer this is to ask what you do for you to feed your spirit. While prayer is the most obvious, don’t forget to consider your devotional time and if you actually do this project. You’re probably not going to draw a leaf for each practice, but reflect on them while drawing the leaves. If you write small enough, you might even write the practice and then draw the leaf around it.
Many traditions refer to the works as the fruits of the Spirit, which Paul says are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. They are the way we show our love of God to our neighbors. Add colorful fruits to your tree – they don’t even have to be the same fruit since this isn’t a “real’ tree but a tree that symbolizes your faith life.
If you’d like you can also add a dying tree in the background for the practices you want to give up.