Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Pear Tree

We have a pear tree in our yard, and like nearly every other tree on the farm, it was here long before we were. We didn’t plant the dream, but annually we look forward to its bounty. 

Over the last six years I’ve been in awe of how much fruit one small tree can produce. I annually pick up buckets of pears that hit the ground, and in some instances, they hit me on the way down. I consider it a small price to pay. This tree has an amazing ability to not only produce many pears, but they’re quite large, also. The majority of the pears that fall are the size of softballs. It is incredible!

Last year, the small tree produced so many large pears that branches began splitting and breaking off. I was so disappointed to see the tree literally break under the pressure of itself. It took on so much that it was simply falling apart. In an effort to save the beloved tree, my husband decided to take a pair of pruners and snip off the branches that were broken. I wondered if this was a good idea. Don’t things in nature usually just work themselves out? Once the pears all fell, wouldn’t it just spring back into shape? Do men really always find the need to get involved….with tools? 

I would never tell him this, but between you and I, I was sick watching the situation unfold. He is so good at many things, but I silently questioned his ability to trim the right limbs that would ensure we’d still have a fruitful tree next year. I’ve seen the man’s resume. Arborist was never on it. 

I watched from afar, trying not to be in the way. 

A branch there. 

Another on the north side. 

Two more close to the bottom. 

One more on the south. 

By the time he was done, the pear tree looked more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree than it did the original, strong fruit tree. I smiled and told him that he’d done a great job, secretly certain I’d just picked my last crop of pears. Ever.

But guess what. A month ago, a neighbor stopped by and picked up a bucket of pears off the ground to use for pear butter. 

Two days ago, I picked two full buckets of pears off the ground, beautifully yellow and turning sweet orange. 

As I pen this, I’m looking outside and see at least a dozen more that have fallen in the last 48 hours. 

The tree is back to its old self; it just needed help. 

I can look out at the pear tree tonight and think about resilience, strength and bouncing back. But this fall the tree has taught me even more about asking for help. 

What is it about asking for help – or even admitting that you need help – that is so tough? I remember well when a neighbor stopped in while I was carrying two buckets of feed with a baby strapped to my chest. She asked if I needed help – I quickly declined any assistance. Why would I have done that? Was I crazy? Yes, probably. 

Decades ago, my grandmother got kicked by a Holstein cow, broke her arm, and finished the evening milking by tying a cutting board to her arm with a handkerchief. I’m not from the kind of stock that is comfortable asking for help. Or complaining. 

Vulnerability. Fear. Rejection. Weakness. We’re living in a culture where none of those things feel warm or inviting. Maybe they shouldn’t. But maybe that’s what we need.  

Asking for help: Vulnerability. Fear. Rejection. Weakness. The pear tree never felt those things, but I can guess that maybe you have. I have, too. 

It is acceptable to ask for help. It is acceptable to not do it all alone. It is acceptable to admit that you need support, large or quite small. 

And between you and I: It is acceptable for someone else to carry the bucket. 

In fact, could it be that much of what 
weighs you down isn’t yours to carry?