What a blessing it was to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk and meditate and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. I am forever changed by that experience.
America is a fairly young country, so even our old buildings are not that old. Historically and intellectually it was amazing to see ruins and structures there that had stood for hundreds, even thousands of years. And to walk among those remains of buildings and walls that were there when Jesus walked among them was even more meaningful and resonated with me in a way that added to my faith.
Seeing stones is one thing. But to see trees, actual living things that were alive when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane was mind-blowing!
To know that two trees I stood near, sat near, were the same trees that Jesus sat next to 2000 years ago created in me a connection that was so intimate, it seemed surreal.
Our guide taught us things about olive trees I did not know. And when I read this Psalm, it added a whole new level of understanding and meaning to all that an olive tree actually is. And it becomes my prayer:
Psalm 52:8-9 NIV
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
Lord, make me like a green olive tree in Your house –
– one that is alive, and vibrant and growing,
one that produces fruit in season
and has long deep roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil
– one that is protected because I am in Your house O Lord
one that You care for individually
and tend to personally
making sure I have everything I need to grow strong
– one that is surrounded by others in a community, the way olive trees grow
so that I can persevere and remain strong even when winds come
– one that will stand, in the midst of the others for years and years and years to come
even as the olive trees that have remained in the Garden of Gethsemane are still living, for two thousand and four hundred years,
and are the same ones Your precious Son knelt by on that fateful night He purposed for Your will to be done in His life on earth
Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful and amazing to look at
May others see me, and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me
As the olive tree produces food to eat,
and oil for lamps,
and ointments for anointing and healing,
Let me be nourishment, and light and blessing and healing to those around me.
May I draw on the strength of the community of other trees You have placed around me,
leaning into them,
drawing restful shade from them, without comparing myself to them
knowing that there are times when we take, and times we give back
May I trust in Your lovingkindness for ever and ever –
even when I am confused
even when I can’t see Your will at work
even when I don’t feel You present
even when the world denies it
even through tears and pain and sorrow
O Lord, May You continue to guide and guard, heal and bless my life with Your Holy Word. And I will give You thanks forever for what You have done; and will hope in Your name, for it is good; and will give You praise in the presence of Your saints. Amen