The “both-and” of grace

I was yesterday years old when I realized there were better ways to love and care for my crepe Myrtle tree than I knew.

Look. No one ever confused me for a green thumb. I’ve loved crepe Myrtle trees for years and was so happy when our father in law gave us two. I love watching them go from stark, empty branches to a full explosion of pink in the summer time. I never thought more about it.

Our trees were late in blooming this year, but, what else would you expect in 2020? I finally googled to see what, as a Myrtle momma, I was doing wrong, and learned that I was supposed to prune them. In the fall.


This evening I went out to take a closer look and found this bunch of flowers. I did nothing to cause them to grow. I did nothing to earn them. Yet here they were, in all of their hot pink glory.

Complete, unmerited grace.

And yet…and yet what did we miss out on this year because I hadn’t pruned the tree last fall? Yes, the tree is doing its thing and providing its color, but could there be more?

I can’t help but think of the “both and” of my own life. I am fully and completely loved and I experience unearned grace on the daily. And also there is so much more beauty, peace, and color that I can have when I know how to love and care for myself and my soul better. When I know and use daily practices that feel as boring as pruning back some leaves in the chilly fall, it’s hard to believe it’s worth it some days. But then, almost without warning, the explosion of color erupts, the peace in a difficult situation, realizing that there are hints and scents of patience, kindness and goodness in my words and actions throughout the day.

And I realize it’s been worth it. Not because I earned it, but because the promise of beauty was there for me all along.

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