A Thing About Trees

I have a thing about trees. It began when I was in grade school and I’d walk a mile or so to visit my grandmother. This walk should have taken less than an hour even for a dreamy, slow walking girl. The trees distracted me.

The height of the trees lining lawns and sidewalks made them look like towers to the sky. Across the road, trees shaded the lake. I was so tree focused I scarcely noticed the road or cars passing by. I wonder now if any of the people passing by in cars wondered about a young girl stopped, head back, staring up through branches laden with rich green leaves. I had no idea how trees began, no knowledge of seeds, and no idea why there were so many kinds of trees. Some had leaves; some had green needles. Some on lawns or near the lake bent over as if doing some kind of exercise. One kind had paper thin bark that could be peeled off. I thought doing that was a serious violation of tree privacy. At that time I really didn’t want to know any facts about trees. To me they were magical, mysterious and reached toward God’s heaven. Trees and God were linked in my thinking. Learning tree facts would have diminished their wonder. I’d yet to hear the creation story out of the Bible but I sensed that God placed trees on earth. Raised over a funeral home, with a father who was a funeral director, I found a message about seasons of life ending in the dropping of colored leaves each fall. After a long season of green hope, many trees turned vivid colors in the hills and mountains. First beauty and then crisp leaves everywhere on the ground. Beauty and life followed by death. I’d scuff through crackly leaves as I walked slowly to school or to my grandma’s house. And as I scuffed I’d think. I associated life and hope with spring buds on trees emerging with new green leaves. I prayed through the trees when all was green. I thought the tree towers so tall they could toss my prayers in a breeze to the God not so far from the whisper of the leaves. Praying through trees without leaves didn’t feel the same. The God connection wasn’t there. Thus I prayed in the blooming seasons but whispered prayers of a different sort while leaf scuffing with my head down. A guardian angel must have guarded my steps because I never tripped, never fell, and never walked into a tree. When I would finally look up, I would often be a little confused as to my location. My tree prayers were always more like conversations. I never recited memorized prayers, never began a prayer with a formal beginning or ending. I just chatted with a God I really didn’t know a lot about but I longed to know any God who made such beauty in trees. Eventually someone in my family asked why it took me so long to walk anywhere and I answered that I prayed through the trees. Somehow my response became a source of teasing about talking to trees. I didn’t try to explain. I sensed I should’ve kept my fascination with trees and my using them as a prayer conduit private. It was an early lesson in keeping some personal things private. I no longer pray through trees but I retain my passion for trees. And when I became a lover of God’s Word in the Bible, I found trees mentioned often. God used trees to teach truths. I’d like to think I have a more adult appreciation and understanding of trees now but here’s the truth. When I hear or see a tree being cut down, I wince. And when my husband trims the trees crowding our screened porch, I feel exposed. I know the tree trimming and even the removal of trees are necessary. I tell myself that but I still tense. Silly of me, I know.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Lord, let me be like a well rooted tree, planted by a life-giving stream, secure in You in all seasons. Help me not to fear a time of drought but to bear fruit in all seasons and the glory will be all yours Lord of Lords, King of Kings.

Photo Credit: Lori Keough, Saranac Lake, NY


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