Bonsai trees such as this one are formed by doing a lot of trimming. Each branch is trimmed and trimmed and trimmed, so that the tree grows in a certain direction with a certain form which emerges from the confinement of the cuts. Lent is a good time in which to ask what needs to be trimmed from our lives.
Not only does trimming a tree form its shape, but it tends also to give new life and strength to those branches not cut. The tight growth of all that remains from the trimming is getting all the nutrients from the soil and the moisture form the weather. When we trim our lives, we more efficiently provide for the best of ourselves which is left untrimmed, uncut.
But just as sorting and discarding basement, files, attic or garage clutter is hard work, so too is the work of trimming our lives. We must discern what is needed and what is to be let go. We must be able to look at our lives in such a way that our attachments are noticed and released. Freedom comes only from this work of detachment and from the willingness to agree with the thought “I no longer need this.”
Trimming tasks, friendships, associations and schedules is as valuable to the soul as is trimming fats and sugars from a diet. Lent may not just be a time to give up chocolate. It may be a time to give up exhaustion, distraction, busy-ness, over-work, over-scheduling and over-commitment.