I planted a tree in my front yard recently. Correction: I bought the tree. I did not plant it.
It still surprises me as it catches my eye through the window. But each time it surprises me, I smile. I think it will always remind me of friends and community.
A friend who works at the nursery helped me pick it out. Another friend drove 40 miles each way to pick it up and deliver it to me. He didn’t want it damaged by the wind, so he stopped to buy a tarp. He was concerned about having plastic around it, so he bought a paper-lined tarp and careful wrapped the tree. He then drove a backroads to my house so he could drive slowly. (We laughed that it looked like he had a mummy in his pickup; at least, it’s close to Halloween.) Another friend and her sons came to plant it, under the attentive direction of their Master Gardener grandma, who stopped by the following day to share grass seed I needed in a small dip in the yard we filled. I now get to water the tree every day. I use two large buckets, which I picked up from yet another friend after she posted on Facebook some items she was getting rid of, with holes drilled in the bottom so the water can gradually seep into the ground. And every time I water, I think about the circles of friends in my life.
Maybe the tree will always remind me of friends because of its journey into my front yard and the attention I’m now giving it. Just like my tree, we need to be intentional in the way we care for friendships. Some are just starting and others have deep roots. Either way, lack of attention and appreciation has an impact. I could carelessly toss a bucket of water on my tree every day, but the same amount of water is better delivered in a more gentle, consistent way. We can toss a bucket of encouragement on a friendship every now and then, but a more intentional and consistent delivery is more nourishing. Just like different friends helped in different ways to get the tree where it is, we are different parts of each friend’s journey. We are not all things to anyone, nor is anyone all things to us. We don’t make friends because of what we can get from someone; we invest in people because we care. Along the way, we learn strengths and needs, and we come alongside each other through changing seasons.
I’m looking forward to watching my tree change through the seasons as yet another reminder of the friendships I have. Through those seasons, I’ll do my best to care for my tree…and my friends. We need to always remember that a lifetime is made up of seasons, and each season in made up of moments. Be intentional about the moments you have today.