Tea Leaves (On Mother's Day)
Round Words

Honoring Trees

"Trees cannot talk, but they do speak. With our eyes focused on franticly flickering screens, perhaps our ears have grown dull to their still small voices, yet they whisper on."  (John Murdock, in "Remembering a Good Oak")

We don't have to worship nature (which is idolatry) or sentimentalize it (which obscures its deep meaning) to dignify it, to regard it in more than a utilitarian manner. I doubt the developers who recently clearcut a rolling tract of land near our home thought about this. Large oaks, some older than anyone I know, are gone, felled, shorn of branches, and loaded naked onto a truck bound for the paper mill. The deer who used to live here will have to find a new way, the fox adeptly alter his path, and I'll not ever see it the same. Pines I honor in mass, their creaking frames swaying in the wind. A good oak, however, an aged one, I sometimes see alone, rest my hand on it, just for a moment honor it for standing so long in a world of change. They should not have to fall unnoticed. 

One of the things I enjoy about great trees is their suggestion of immutability. In that, they imperfectly reflect God, who is unchangeable. The maples and pines in my suburban backyard aren't great trees like the stolid redwoods or sequoias, yet many were here before me, before this house of 30 years, and so are worth reflecting on. They offer some assurances. The world changes around us at a dizzying speed, and yet trees just stand, a silent witness to a God who is called a "strong tower" and a "rock." I wonder if someday, like the great trees of Middle-Earth, they too will rise up and say, "Enough."

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