Summary: A story sermon about a woman who is forced to examine the roots of her spirituality.

Sally sat in stunned silence as Dr. Shah finished reading the radiology report. Yes, the same Sally who was never at a loss for words, the one who had been dubbed Miss Sally Speakalot by her Grade 5 teacher. She had known all along that there was a history of breast cancer in her family. But, she thought she had done everything possible to minimize the risk. She would only buy organically-grown fruits and vegetables, she had taken the most expensive anti-oxidants in the market, she belonged to the finest fitness club in the city, she had minimized stress by carefully managing her short, if anyone was not a candidate for cancer, it would’ve been Sally. But, here she was, receiving the bad news.

“I’ve booked an appointment for you to see Dr. Lopez at the Cancer Clinic, Sally” Dr. Shah continued. “She is one of the best in the country.” Sally hesitated to even ask what the next step might be, as she recalled her mother’s radical mastectomy. It was as though Dr.Shah read her mind. “I would suspect that at this early stage, a lumpectomy would be as radical as it would get, Sally, but Dr. Lopez is the specialist and she’ll make the call. With your positive attitude to life and strong determination, you can beat it, Sally...any questions?”

Sally burst into tears as she stormed out of the doctor’s office and headed straight for the parking lot.

“This is not fair” she said out aloud as she slumped into the driver’s seat. She had just moved to Kelowna after living in Regina all her life. It was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. There were days she felt like second-guessing her decision, but then she’d watch the weather channel, hear about the windchill of -69°C on the Prairies....and would thus receive confirmation that she had indeed made the right choice! It bothered her, though. Here she was, at age 57, having spent 35 productive years in the workforce, having raised two wonderful children who were well-established on their own, having survived the sudden death of her husband at age 52... was she not entitled to a life of peace, health and prosperity? Whatever happened to the Canadian dream of enjoying life in retirement? Whatever happened to the Saskatchewan dream of enjoying retirement in British Columbia?

She started driving nowhere in particular, on the outskirts of the city, past orchards and vineyards until she came near a hill. She stopped the car and started walking, when she spotted an abandoned farm. The old farm house was still standing. The realtor in her said that with some vision and some effort someone could turn this into a very valuable property. She recalled how driven she was at one time in her life. Making money was such a thrill. It was almost a game for her. The early days were not that easy. She had to establish herself. She made cold calls, said hello to anyone she met, joined service clubs and volunteered her services, just so she could pass out some business cards and get some referrals. Once she got it into high gear, the repeat business and referrals from sastisfied homebuyers kept her hopping.

“Boy, was I ever motivated in those days!” she thought to herself. But, after a while, making money had lost that thrill she once had. The housing market was in a bit of a slump, even for an old pro like Sally. That’s when she’d decided to cut loose and make the move to Kelowna.

As she walked around the house looking at the walls and the roof with the keen trained eye of an appraiser, she noticed an apple tree, still alive, but bearing only a very few, tiny, wormy apples. The tree desperately needed two things. Water and pruning.

When Sally first moved to Kelowna, one of her neighbhours shared with her the story of how apple trees became part of the Okanagan Valley. Many years ago, she couldn’t recall exactly when, a missionary priest, Fr. Pandosy, wandered through this valley, and brought some small apple trees with him. He planted them by a creek that flowed near her house. The first tender little trees were watered by hand from the creek till their tap roots found the water level, and as their ROOT SYSTEM developed, the trees grew big and strong.

As she looked at the poor specimen in front of her eyes, she could see that the roots of this tree were desperately seeking some source of nourishment, but they were not finding it in this high spot, far removed from the supply of fresh water in the creek. Its only hope was rainfall or irrigation. Lately it had been getting neither and the results were showing. Whatever it was getting to keep it alive was not sufficient. Unless there was some intervention, this tree would never produce apples again...and would be chopped down.

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