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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

27 March 2019: Patsy Robinson, Petersfield Methodist Church

The tree that would not bend

During a storm, my daughter was standing with some friends at her kitchen window, watching the effects of a howling gale. The gardens in her road are not large, but many of them have trees at the end, and in that powerful wind they were bending low. It was a worrying sight as most of the neighbours had sheds and greenhouses which were looking increasingly vulnerable.

One particular tree, however, attracted their attention: a tall poplar three doors down was standing upright and unmoving. At first it seemed as if this tree was above all the commotion, strong and unyielding in the violent wind, and they were beginning to admire its resilience.

In a similar way, we can admire people who stick to their guns and won’t be moved however convincing an argument against them. And sometimes those people are right and brave to do so. However, in the book ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’ there is a useful piece of advice: “Think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

Sure enough, as my daughter watched with horror, that strong, unyielding tree was the one that was blown down. Now lying along the end of six gardens, it was the destroyer of fences, walls, garden tools, bikes and shrubs. All of them damaged in a matter of minutes.

And like all those flexible trees, we too need to bend. We need to “Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue” We need to be forgiving, and we need to acknowledge our own need of forgiveness. Because peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

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