By Peter M. Kalellis

Often considered one of the most beautiful times of the year, Spring brings about a feeling of renewal and is an essential aspect of life. With the arrival of the season, the world awakens to the brilliance of nature. It revives us all with its warm and cheerful ways. A flood of skin-tingling warmth suddenly consumes you, and everything shines with a fresh, colorful glow, making you forget that anything as cold and harsh as winter ever existed.

My concern is how to find a few simple words to thank God for giving me life for another day and another Spring season? At this point, I have to confess that some mornings, I find myself either tired or moody and fail to do what is needed. Mornings usually come too quickly. I have to move fast…wash up, grab a bite to eat, and run. But sometimes I don’t feel like it. What I want to do is get back into bed. Quite frankly, I ask myself, where am I running? I don’t know. Then regaining my senses, I say, what counts most is just that somebody may know. At that very moment I think of my father who is no longer around to consult. But memory momentarily brings him back.

I was eight years old when I saw my father mercilessly cutting out mercilessly short and long branches of a big tree. He called this pruning. I felt sad when I saw that big beautiful fig tree reduced to a smaller size. “Dad, why did you cut away so many branches of the fig tree?” It was that special tree that I used to climb up to find the best and delicious figs. “Wait until Spring, when this tree will be rejuvenated and will bear an abundance of fruit,” my father said proudly. To my big surprise, it did. Springtime came, and nature in full force proved that my father’s words were on target. The fig tree brought us an abundance of delicious figs throughout the entire summer.

Now, this 93-year-old finds pruning trees as a metaphor in my life. As I take an inventory each day, I need to focus on things of importance and let go of what is unimportant. Whenever I feel tired or exhausted for being overextended, I think of pruning. I try to simplify my life, which is an excellent place to start. In addition to trimming the externals of my life, so I can live in a manageable way, I must do some inner pruning. When I feel overwhelmed, I take a psychological and spiritual step back, a sort of inventory of my life. I begin to search for the motive, fears, expectations, and habits that are causing me discomfort.

A good example is when I get angry, I ask myself why am I feeling this way? What is the source of my anger? I make an effort to diffuse my anger by confronting it. Anger is a multi-faced fury that bears directly on our attitude toward life, on our emotional climate, on our effectiveness, and, more often than not it affects our health. Anger, hate, hostility, resentment, aggression, violence, all derive from the same source.

Of course, various sources of the healing arts offer psycho-spiritual help. Indeed, each of the disciplines has its importance, and in time of need, each makes a significant contribution to health and life. Most important, these procedures often point out how human mistakes and failures provide the best lessons in life. Emotional availability to our significant others, family members and friends rely directly on our ability to prune poor motivations, so we are not prey to unrealistic expectations—either ours or those of others. When we do this the natural beauty of our life will spontaneously emerge and nurture others as well. Ultimately, we can prune away unrealistic expectations, to reveal the simple gifts that we possess. When we do this inner pruning, we are more likely to be aware of the blossoms and the fruit we will bring to those we encounter along the way. This first lesson on pruning relies on our ability to gain perspective by ensuring we are clear about our goals, especially when we are exerting more and more effort and feeling less and less satisfied by what we are doing. It is stepping back and reflecting on our motivations that make all the difference.

Dear reader, you can do good things for yourself and others. An idea that can be supportive comes from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And I can add, “Nobody has the power to deprive you of enjoying the 2019 Spring season.