New Thought Editorials > Root Pruning and Shoot Selecting


Winter 2014

Root Pruning and Shoot Selecting

These days, our society has set things up so that as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder (at least in the northern hemisphere), we offset the tendency to slump into depression by choosing to celebrate the birth of love/Jesus/the Prince of Peace into the world, regardless of his actual birth date. (They do the same thing for the Queen of England, whose actual birthday is in April but is celebrated in June, when the weather is nicer.) Before people were more or less universally able to read, traditions were passed along by accomplished storytellers; the liturgical year in the churches was another good way of keeping those traditions going. No bad thing.

Another good thing that happens at the end of the year is stocktaking, an inventory of how things are going and what we "have in the house" that might be put to good use in the future so that we could grow in abundance consciousness, since what we give our attention to grows. So we have a great celebration to shoo the old year out and the new, more prosperous year in. We do this—if we are smart—under the auspices of Ultimate Reality, a.k.a. God. For most of us, New Year’s Resolutions are broken before the end of the New Year’s Day bowl games. That’s because we didn’t consult our friendly neighborhood psychologist for a few pointers on how to set things up.

Forget the psychologist and just read Emmet Fox’s little pamphlet, The Mental Equivalent. Fox says to get a clear focus on what it is that we really want and then steadily think about it, disciplining ourselves not to let our attention go off track into the bushes of negativity. Also, we shouldn’t look through the camera lens and then substitute a whole series of subjects before the picture can snap, which would result in an out-of-focus blur. This sounds so easy and yet is so difficult because our thoughts get stuck in a negative rut and keep traveling back down it. We have to get that focus clear and then pursue all sorts of thoughts relevant to it in a helpful way, doing what is available for us to do, which includes disciplining our thinking. We neither ignore our shortcomings nor flog ourselves with them. "What is that to thee? Follow thou me." In other words, get back on track, our God- guided track. And be sure that the track includes doing more of what we excel at and enjoy, too.

What’s true for businesses is equally true for us as individuals: as part of our life cycle, we need an annual review in which to examine the state of things relevant to what we have set as our vision. What’s good and supportive of that vision, we keep; what’s bad and carrying us off course, we remove. We neither keep everything just to honor tradition, nor do we junk everything in the name of change. We look at our religion: our set of beliefs, attitudes, and actions with respect to Ultimate Reality, going back to our roots and pruning any diseased ones. We also give attention to our new green shoots, to see which need encouraging.

The ancient Israelites were given a strict code of conduct suitable for a primitive tribe to survive in wilderness conditions. It worked well—back then. But one very big mistake is to assume that the perfect solution for one situation is perfect for all situations, even for all similar situations. Moses got himself into hot water when he struck the rock in order to get water, a solution that had worked well before. But this time, God had ordered him to speak to the rock, a more sophisticated way of operating and one that demanded greater faith and self-discipline. On the other hand, Ahab got into very hot water when he married a foreign wife who worshipped a different god and led him and his nation seriously astray from the God who had led them safely through the wilderness. Even Solomon with all his wisdom had fallen into that trap, but obviously Ahab didn’t learn from the past mistakes of others.

So here we are at the holy days again, our chance to break out of our routines, celebrate, and become refreshed. This is a season of lights, which always symbolize enLIGHTenment. We also have a chance to examine our routines and determine what to keep and what to change. Part of our new routine needs to be studying what has worked in the past for people worth emulating, and what needs to be changed. And God, whose loving character is from age to age the same, will guide us into the appropriate kinds and amounts of change. Don’t throw out the baby (the Wonder Child) with the bath water used for cleansing. Holy is from the same root as whole, all in one piece, integrated. Let’s get ourselves back together.