"God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by a process of subtraction."
— Meister Eckhart

"Every year, in early spring, our friend Molly comes out to the house for dinner. It is the time of year to prune our fruit trees, and Molly is the only one who can do it. She has a particular wisdom, an uncanny ability to see the tree that will grow out of the tree that now is. When she sees this, she is able without hesitation to cut from the tree what simply must go, and allow to remain what must remain.

"Every year, as I cook dinner on the grill in the backyard, I argue with Molly as she moves from tree to tree. 'You're cutting too much!' I always protest. I am afraid she will take more than the tree can do without, and it will not grow. She, of course, understands that things often grow taller and stronger with less, not more. This is something I still have trouble accepting completely, although I understand it conceptually. But Molly knows this for a fact. And so she cuts and cuts, leaving a trim, firm shape behind. Sometimes she leaves a little extra, just for me. The tree doesn't need it, she insists; it is just so I won't get so upset.

"Much of spiritual practice is just this: cutting away what must be cut, and letting remain what must remain. Knowing what to cut — this is wisdom. Being clear and strong enough to make the cut when it is time for things to go — this is courage. Together, the practices of wisdom and courage enable us, day by day and task by task, to gradually simplify our life."