Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Life Viewed by Trees

On the lower corner of our lot is a giant of a tree. It's a grand old tree, a thing of true beauty. And it's a tree that has come to the end of its days. The roots are beginning to upset the foundations of our neighbor, and branches are breaking and falling down onto their rooftop. Our neighbor kindly offered to hire a crew to take it down and we accepted. 

I am conflicted with both awe at the bravery and skill of the men who climb well over 50 feet to take the upper branches out with simple rope and machete, and I also grieve for the loss of such a majestic tree. Like so much of life, I look at the tree and I am overcome with conflicting emotions. There is the timeless nature of its beauty, the spectacle of the fearless men, and the sadness of its passing.

I thank God for the balance in living. The sadness focuses my mind and gives perspective for the beauty. I think back to the days that our family has planted trees: when Aleksandra came home from Russia we planted a white birch, when Sterling came home from China we planted a cherry blossom tree, and I spent and afternoon with Caleb at our old house in Ohio planting a maple tree that he brought home from school. Three children, three trees that signified our thanks.

Without a doubt we will soon plant a new tree here in our yard. It will be a moment of reflection. We'll give thanks for the life of that giant tree and reflect on all the changes it has seen in this country. It has stood above decades of war, and it has seen peace and renewal begin to spread across the land. We'll give thanks for the trees we've planted and the events they signify. Those trees still grow in Ohio.

But our gaze will not extend only backwards. As our shovel turns over the ground that will cradle a new tree, we know that time will continue to pass and that tree will now bear witness to the coming days. It will stand above our little family as we seek out the will of our Father. 

God seeks to restore all of creation back to Himself, and we are all here as His creation. May the growth of this tree shade us as we yield to Him and find reconciliation, back to a perfect state of a man and a woman in a garden. 
Caleb | April 2011

May our lives grow to be giants of beauty. May we grow strong and tall, with smooth branches and sometimes gnarled roots. Let us be branches that comfort and shade. Let us give life to our surroundings. Let us continue to bear witness to the glory of our God and to His story unfolding in our lives. And when that time comes, may we fall softly into the arms of God.

The old Shep House (Aleksandra's Birch visible in the center).

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1 ESV
(It was Pop's favorite)

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