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By SOPHIE DRUFFNER
Such a one is like a tree planted near streams; it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither, and every project succeeds.
The Responsorial Psalm doesn’t get enough credit. It’s usually murmured or sung weakly by the Congregation while everyone’s a bit sleepy after the First Reading. Sometimes, if sung particularly loudly, it shocks people into complete wakefulness, but by the homily, everyone’s back in that same sleeplike state again. Today, I will be reflecting on a verse in the Responsorial Psalm, a verse that, if you go to Daily Mass today, you might not treasure nearly enough.
I have always wanted to be a tree. Looking outside the windows of JPII HS, one can see the beautiful live oaks, towering above the courtyards, and on my usually busy school days, it’s so refreshing to look outside and see the sunlit Senior or Prayer Courtyard, green everywhere.
I have imagined what it is like to be a tree. Calm, silent, leaves occasionally moving in the wind, water rushing up and down the bark, roots reaching into the earth. Very calm, very silent.
But how different when a tree is in the storm. The rain rushing everywhere, lightning sizzling, thunder scaring all the dogs in the city as the storm throws the tree’s branches from side to side and leaves fall.
One of the trees at JPII bears evidence of this; an entire bough is completely brown, bending down, surrounded by a courtyard, the effect of some brutal summer storm. Sometimes, looking out, I see the bough, and I feel like it; weighed down by its own self, just wanting to fall into an abyss.
Don’t be this bough. It’s really easy to become one, just thinking about your schedule: the kids, the classes, the spouse, the grocery shopping, the bills,the grades, whatever you have. It’s easy to see the entire todo list stretching into the abyss, with no hope and no time of ever beginning to start it.
But just as the bough is hunched in the courtyard, and its leaves are brown, it is still held up by the breadth of the tree, preventing the bough from falling onto the ground. In my life, the breadth of the tree is God’s wide hand, always there to pull me up again if Ifall, to nudge you along, to lift your chin up when you’re a little sad.
Even when you are totally worn out by everything, so tired that you begin dreaming about all the things you have yet to do, God is still holding you up. He knows that there are a ton of things that you have to do, but if you just ask for His help, he can provide you with the strength to get what you need to get done. Sometimes he gives you the strength and the ability to think through the list of things, determine which you can do if you get up earlier the next morning and which have to be done right this second, and then settle in to sleep for a little bit.
And above all, He always gives you the opportunity to be in silence for a little, if that silence is in a quietclassroom, outside, or even the silent few seconds when one takes the garbage out in the cool morning air (even if that air is a little too cool for Texas). You don’t even have to pray—God knows that you’re finding the peace you need. You can just close your eyes, breathe five times, then look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you can conquer this day!
So be the tree in the courtyard. Remember that if you’re going through a storm, God will hold you up. He will always give you the strength to complete your most necessary items on your To Do list or give you the ability to think creatively about completing them. Try calling your To Do list your “Conquer List” or “Things to be Conquered.” You’ll feel more empowered, trust me. And take some time to look outside the window and think about being a tree. Then close your eyes and take five deep breaths.