Nothing But Leaves – Part 2

by DanWolgemuth on November 8, 2013

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.  And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves… (Mark 11:12-13a)

Without a kiss good-bye, Karen had to cope with the loss of her beloved Gerry.  It was a motorcycle accident in May of 2006 that snuffed out his life. 

In the aftermath, Karen was left navigating her life with her two adult daughters. This included sorting through the mechanics of a successful construction company in rural Russell, Pennsylvania and taking care of a house that Gerry personally constructed on 25 acres of family property. 

In February, Karen, along with two other college friends, gathered at our home in Aurora, Colorado.  It was a women’s weekend.  It was a time of love and laughter.  It was a time of transparent sharing and tears.  During one of the conversations, Karen shared about a daunting and growing “to do” list around the maintenance and upkeep of her home.  For nearly 30  years Karen had been married to a build it “do it all” kind of man.  But in 2006 that changed…

Immediately the hearts of the three women that surrounded Karen were stirred.  A work weekend was envisioned that implicated and included me and the spouses of the two other women.  Calendars were brandished, and a date was set.  Late October and early November seemed best. 

From Denver and Cincinnati and Chicago we converged on Russell.  We were greeted with hugs and mounting expectation… and for several days we lived by the dictates of a lengthy list of projects.  Walls got painted, sidewalks were power washed, chair cushions were recovered, touch-up was done on wood trim, a tile floor was installed on a bathroom floor, wood got moved and stacked for winter, a basement received a spring cleaning, etc.  There were trips to Lowes and the local Goodwill.  We absolutely blitzed the list that Karen had lived with for seven years. 

At the end of each day we sat, hearts full and bodies aching.  We laughed, sometimes with embarrassing frequency; we cried, with authentic pain; we planned for the most critical activities for the following day; and we loved in tangible, “to-do list” busting kinds of ways.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)


Leaves that promise and deliver. 

Caring for widows who carry both the pain of loss, and the challenge of life; this is what Jesus had in mind.  This is the fruit that He expects His followers to produce. 

In a sense I feel the burden of the years of missed service opportunities for Karen; I perceive the failed promise of “nothing but leaves.”

But perhaps, as never before, I have tasted the life-giving fruit that Jesus produces when His Body comes together… for widows… for Karen… for Jesus.

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