Recently I planted a small yew bush. It has wee berries on it, and seems to be doing well in my raised bed. The soil around my house is sandstone mixed with shattered basalt and clay. Very little grows in it—sage brush and wild grasses do well, but that’s about it. If you want to grow anything, you must bring in rich soil.
That’s what we did. A friend of ours brought in soil, hedged it in with large rocks and voila! Raised beds. I have planted many things in them, and at first, the deer were grateful. One morning I went out to find seven of them, all with heads down, using my raised bed as a salad bar. I asked them, “Hey, what are you doing?” and they slowly raised their heads, looked at me and trotted off. There went $300.00 dollars’ worth of nursery plants in their happy bellies!
Then I got smart, and then searched out anti-deer plants. Conifers, lavender and bamboo seem to fit the bill. I also look for unfriendly-looking plants, such as yew and juniper. I am assuming the tender leaves are more attractive to a deer, and the yew bush looked prickly. We now have a fence the mostly encloses the area as well, so the deer aren’t as willing to venture in.
The little yew is a joy, when you consider its counterpart, the yew tree. Here is a picture of the oldest yew tree known: it’s about 2000 years old. It's in Scotland. It has a protective wall around it.
My husband mentioned that yew trees were the preferred wood for making the longbow in the Middle Ages. Why? Because it’s flexible and strong. I thought what a beautiful analogy for the Christian life. We are to be flexible in that we need to bend with the winds that blow our way and not snap. We need to be compassionate with others, not snapping our fingers at them to change now, knowing that at some point in our lives, we may be in their shoes, and we’d want mercy at that point. We need to be patient with others and not snap at them, knowing that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1).
Strong: how often do the Scriptures admonish us to be “strong in the Lord”:
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17).
The Lord not only admonishes us to be strong, but then gives us the tools that enables us to be so. So my little yew has such potential: to grow and be strong. It will face many winters up here, with strong winds, and may even be buried in snow. But, its potential, how it is constructed, will serve it well. It’s also in rich soil—rich soil yields a stronger plant. What kind of soil are we in?
We, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, have great potential to grow strong and flexible in Him, and face those winters with confidence.
Lord of My Heart: I am planted in the richest soil possible: Your Holy Spirit. I may be small in You, but help me to grow and be strong in You for the winter winds will blow. But rooted in You, I can face the cold with confidence.