Pruning the Old to Allow the New

Susan Dworski

When we wrote friend and contributor Susan Dworski of many decisions we had were making to change how we worked — limiting some aspects and dreams to focus on others — she likened it to pruning a tree: the essential process of culling and removing branches of a shrub or tree in order to encourage growth. Her words and photos  are as perfect as a poem:

No matter how out of control or confabulated one’s life may seem, by careful, patient pruning of old, extraneous dead wood, we can rediscover its natural, graceful arc across time.
Susan Dworski

Susan Dworski

And we can tap into and reclaim the health, beauty and harmony that were there all the time, waiting for us.
Just as we hadn’t made the connection between pruning and the essential editing of our own lives, we hadn’t considered the idea of being pruned by life and loss until we stumbled on Howard Moss‘s extraordinary poem, “The Pruned Tree”.

Here is a wonderful reading by poet James Merrill, to listen to as you read. (Original video link here.)

As a torn paper might seal up its side,
Or a streak of water stitch itself to silk
And disappear, my wound has been my healing,
And I am made more beautiful by losses.
See the flat water in the distance nodding
Approval, the light that fell in love with statues, 
Seeing me alive, turns its motion toward me.
Shorn, I rejoice in what was taken from me.

What can the moonlight do with my new shape
But trace and retrace its miracle of order?
I stand, waiting for the strange reaction 
Of insects who knew me in my larger self,
Unkempt, in a naturalness I did not love.
Even the dog’s voice rings with a new echo,
And all the little leaves I shed are singing,
Singing to the moon of shapely newness.

Somewhere what I lost I hope is springing
To life again. The roofs, astonished by me, 
Are taking new bearings in the night, the owl
Is crying for a further wisdom, the lilac
Putting forth its strongest scent to find me.
Butterflies, like sails in grooves, are winging
out of the water to wash me, wash me.
Now, I am stirring like a seed in China.

 

So, in loss and change and paring away do we grow.

Thanks Susan!

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