I was appalled when Joan’s mom (with dad’s assistance) removed every wisteria branch from our garden arbor. It had done so well that spring and summer, covering the arch with green leaves, creating shade over that area of the brick walkway. It had taken a few years to grow so well. And now it was gone. Joan was just as upset. But perhaps the master gardener knew what she was doing.
The next year that plant grew back with even greater force and the year after we saw something new – beautiful blooms. I’ve read that it takes eight to twelve years for wisteria plants to bloom. But it is possible to encourage the plant to do so sooner – through a severe pruning. In our case the plant displayed its flowering beauty in half the typical number of years.
A hemispherotomy surgery (see explanation below) is a severe pruning to be sure. The thought of putting Matthew through it was at first repulsive and then terrifying. But he made it through and is well into rehabilitation, but we have a long way to go. We are told that it takes three to six months for full recovery – meaning returning him to the abilities he had before the surgery. Matthew is just six weeks in.
Even so, there is already evidence that Matthew will bloom. He will have cognitive ability for which he did not have potential prior to his “pruning.” With seizures out of the way (we’ve seen none since the surgery), new things are possible. This will take time, which will require corresponding patience on our part.
Everyone loves miracles, especially those that show immediate results. It would be nice if the surgery outcome had looked like the man by the Beautiful Gate who, after a word from Peter, was immediately walking and leaping and praising God. Instead, each new step for Matthew is painfully slow.
I’ve learned a lot from the wisteria experience. Though none of my garden pruning has been that severe, in faith I’ve since taken the shears to many plants and have, over time, seen a lot of fruit as a result. And slowly I’m growing in my confidence that the Master Gardener knows what he is doing and brings much fruit through his pruning work in our lives (see the Gospel of John, chapter 15).
* A hemispherotomy is a type of brain surgery where the two hemispheres of the brain are disconnected. Children who may benefit from this procedure already have long standing weakness on one side of their body; this is due to severe damage to the opposite side of the brain.