Using equals bruising

I never noticed before how trees "bleed" when they send out little ones - branches or volunteers - from their trunks. As I photographed the sap blood sparkling down the vein in this old oak's bark, I thought about the blood my children are drawing from me - the energy expended on them, the resources poured into them, the lessening of my own wants and needs for their benefit. Fruit of our loins draws from us blood, sweat, tears. I hear a constant cultural refrain to be careful how many of my own resources I allocate to them - to conserve my energy and emotion so that I survive - neigh, thrive - through these difficult years of early motherhood. I say that's probably a bad investment of my self. After all, this self won't last forever, and it is investment in our offspring, as well as our communities, that has fueled exponential growth and success throughout human history.

...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:10-11

I was reminded of the lesson, a deeper strain of it, while dusting my piano. I use the term "dusting" loosely, as I actually scrubbed two rags full of dirt off the piano using an all-purpose cleaner. I laughed to myself as I did this task (which I do every two weeks or so, incidentally). Most pianists I know would cringe to think of dirty - actually dirty, not just dusty! - piano keys. Yet to me it is a sign of the growing love of music I hope to foster in all my children. Experimentation with music at an early age is so key to eventual joy in music. It embeds music in the very fiber of their being, tying the sounds to experiences and memories throughout their lifetime.

Using equals bruising. Touching equals dirtying. Playing with equals eventual wearing out or using up.

This applies to my understanding of God as well. God could have set us on a shelf as objects of perfection, devoid of free will. Instead, He lets us "use" it. That involves consequences, bruises, tears, dirt. A lot of the "dirt" that we see - suffering, inane consequences that seem unrelated to individual actions - that's just a whole lot of free will banging around in this world. And personally, I think it's more fun that way. I know God has a plan for free will, for consequences, for pain and suffering, for the tree that bleeds when she sends out her branches. For the mother who tires as she grows the branches, her children.

God His own doth tend and nourish,
In His holy courts they flourish;
Like a Father kind He spares them,
In His loving arms He bears them.

What He takes or what He gives us
shows the Father's love, so precious.
We may trust His purpose wholly,
'Tis His children's welfare solely.
~ More Secure Is No One Ever, Lina Sandell Berg, 1868