“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8, NRSV).
In October 2003, while on retreat at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, near Abiquiu, New Mexico, I heard this reading during one of the monastic offices: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord….” This passage seemed almost to have been written with the location of the monastery in mind. The monastery is located in the desert in the heart of a canyon formed by the Rio Chama that flows through it. From the patio outside my room, I often sat in silence between the hours of prayer gazing at the birch trees that lined the banks of the river. My eyes were continually drawn to the bright yellow birch leaves blazing in their final fall glory before they fell to the earth. In the midst of the high desert, these trees flourished because they found their source of nourishment in the waters of the Chama River.
Jeremiah employs the metaphor of a river in the desert to talk about God. Similarly, the trees represent the “blessed” men and women who are nourished and fed by God at all times. What strikes me about this image of Jeremiah is the passive action of the blessed person who trusts in the LORD. The trees do not have to work to draw nourishment, rather they quietly and patiently place themselves near the life-giving and life-sustaining stream of life so that neither heat nor drought brings them to ruin or destruction. In the time of drought, the trees are not anxious or full of worry but are able to rest in God’s presence and are capable of bearing fruit, even in the harshest and driest of conditions.
This Lent, I encourage you to reflect on how you draw nourishment from the stream of God’s love and mercy. I have attached a link to set of resources to assist you in your daily Lenten devotions and readings that I hope will help you find all that you need to draw you to prayer, contemplation, and silent rest in God’s presence