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The weather’s gone bitter cold, winter cold. Autumn in all its burnt ochre, crisp brown, burgundy brightness has seemingly been skipped over. Just thinking about trees — as they drop their leaves precipitously — makes me ponder harvest. Trees do as God intends for them to do: They grow, bear fruit, shed leaves and begin the cycle again. But what about humans? What is God’s intention for each of us and how can we know if we are fulfilling it? It is indeed a puzzle.

Trees we judge by their yield, yet —
what is the measure of mortals?
Not rings to mark time
nor grandeur of height.
Surely nothing as showy as an apple,
dappled, toothsome, sweet.
Making money is not near
as lovely as leaves, less utile
than blade and bud that sustain
whole species over long winters.
What have we to give but kindness
and the consolation of a listening ear?
You cannot put these on a table
or measure yield in bushels.
God alone will part our needles,
tap our trunks, ascertain
whether we have given good home
to those who alight on our branches.

Trees are powerful things.  They take root in our emotions.

A fallen tree makes me sad.  I always want to pat it and try to make it feel better.  “There, there.”

Having to cut down a tree?  If it is sick, I can just barely tolerate the necessity.  If it isn’t . . .  Even if it has to be done for safety purposes, it is simply better if I’m not there.

Maybe this is because trees are slow to grow.  Plant a tree today and you aren’t going to have shade in a week or even a year.  This is an investment of decades.

Not that this should surprise us.  God is a long-term thinker.  It takes time for things to build, to grow, to mature.

Maybe that’s why we so often think that God isn’t listening to us.  Perhaps God is on tree time.   The next time you need to go to God in prayer, find a tree to lean against, sit on a shaded bench, stare up through the branches.  And talk to God who made both trees and human kind.

–SueBE

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