We have eight different varieties of mature, fruit-producing trees on the quarter of an acre of land that we rent here in the Algarve: almond, carob, fig, loquat, plum, lemon, tangerine and orange. We actually have multiples of each of these trees.
And there are thirty orange trees. As in three zero. Ten times three.
When the really hot weather rolls around, the orange trees need water. But worry ye not – we have a well and water aplenty. The base of each tree has been carefully dug out to form another sort of well, that can be filled to the brim with water a few times per week, keeping the tree well hydrated. Because the land is large and the trees are spread out across it, a long and thick hose is needed to get this job done.
A long, thick and heavy hose.
Due to the muscle power needed to drag the monstrous water conduit from tree to tree, it’s normally not one of the items on my task list. Denny usually takes care of it, or Daniel, the man who rents a warehouse on our property. With Denny away for a month on the No Longer Music tour, however, I have been elected to this undertaking. And though it might not seem like a big deal to the average, able-bodied human being, my body (and in particular, my muscle power) is decidedly less than able.
Trust me… the hose is thicker than it looks here.
Fortunately, it’s not super hot yet, so the trees are only needing to be doused about once a week. Even more fortunately, it rained during the first week that Denny was on tour, so I was temporarily rescued from this obligation. The past seven days, on the contrary, have been particularly hot and dry and our lovely citrus grove was beginning to drop a bit of immature fruit, begging for a long, cool drink.
So I needed to devise a plan: a means of transforming a downright difficult deed into a possible and even pleasant prospect!
Do you ever find yourself in this position in life? Being charged with a task for which you are not qualified, that you are completely unequipped to undertake? Living in countries other than the one I was born and raised in, and engaging in the wild and challenging activities that are part of our daily life, I often experience this.
Many times, my first reaction is one of panic and refusal: I can’t do this! It’s too much for me! There are definitely others more capable of handling this than I am! Let them do it! (And Denny’s ears are usually on the receiving end of this monologue). But once I’ve versed my lament, I generally pull myself together, accept the challenge, and begin to work out a strategy for accomplishing what needs to be done.
Yes, the ideal is that someone who is truly qualified and capable of a job be the person to do it. But frequently, even just for a brief period, another needs to stand in the gap – to fill shoes that don’t quite feel their size, and that are uncomfortable. That’s when asking God to give us a game plan and consulting with others who might offer helpful advice makes all the difference. They are most definitely times of stretching, but also moments when we can grow in our trust in God, our abilities and our confidence in facing unfamiliar tasks.
By breaking down
the initially overwhelming job
of watering the orange trees
into small, doable chores,
I was able not only to get it done,
but to get it done well and even have some fun!
Two evenings ago, when the sun was setting
and the air was cooling down,
I rolled out the mega-hose
and delivered it’s “mouth”
to the farthest tree in the yard. While playing fetch with our dog Eva (who had me laughing hysterically, as she tore about the yard, running circles around me with the ball in her mouth), I managed to fill a third of the “tree wells” and then, rather than reeling the hose in, I just left it there, like a snake in the grass.
The following morning, before the heat of the day hit (and before my cup of coffee… truly taking one for the team), I satiated another third of the yard’s trees.
Finally, last night, with the dogs cheering me on (and occasionally giving Tummy, the cat, a little sprinkle), I completed the project, still leaving the hose unwound.
This morning, a cloudy and cooler day, I reeled that baby in – mission accomplished!
Though my arm muscles are singing a lament from hauling that tremendous thing around our property, I feel satisfied for having succeeded on a venture that seemed far beyond my reach. Sometimes you just have to devise a plan for the wisest way to move forward, muster up your courage, and get to it!
By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.