Canada produces about 85% of the world’s maple syrup.  That’s because here in Canada, we have the right kind of trees living in the right kind of temperatures for sap to run in abundance.

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DA tells me that all trees produce sap but the maples we tap flow heavier than most trees because of the winters they have to endure here.   That speaks to me.  I love trees like some people love mountains or oceans and I can’t help but pity them during the long cold months of winter.  When the temperatures drop below zero, I have the option of bundling up in warm clothes and blankets, of retreating indoors, of soaking in a hot tub.  Trees don’t have options.  They must stand nakedly where they are and endure all the fury winter hurls at them.  It’s the trial of the extreme winters we have that causes them to produce sap as a kind of anti-freeze for their roots.  When the nights are cool and the days warm, the  build-up of sap creates a kind of pressure inside the tree.  If the tree is tapped with a stile the sap naturally flows out just like blood out of a wound.  Of course, the wonderful thing about sap is that it can be boiled down into maple syrup.

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It’s a pretty site in the Spring to see shacks like these in the woods with smoke billowing out their tops.  It means sap is undergoing its trial by fire to become the sweet, sticky liquid we love to smother our pancakes with.

All of this got me to thinking.  I often feel sorry for people who are going through what seems to me a long or particularly difficult trial.  Some of these people to me are like trees in the winter.  There is no escape for them; they simply must endure.  I wonder though if the trial is quietly producing in them something like sap- character perhaps- that can be tapped into at a later date when circumstances aren’t so harsh.  I wonder if all that they’ve suffered can bring about something that can be used to bless others – the maple syrup if you will.

My natural tendancy is to want to pray people out of “winter season experiences”.  I don’t like to see others have to suffer and bear up under difficult circumstances.    If I were God, I would rescue them and make life easier, healthier, more prosperous.  If I were God the sap would never run because there would never be long harsh winters.  If I were God there would be no maple syrup.  It’s a good thing I’m not God.  The world would miss out on many sweet blessings because I am ignorant and short-sighted as to what the trials are doing in people’s lives.  I don’t pray hardship on anyone and if I can help and am led to do so I will help but for those individuals I can’t deliver from what has befallen them, I pray that they’ll become “sappy”, that is, filled to bursting with something that can be transformed at a later date for the blessing and betterment of many.

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