1318. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples… ~John Muir

The oaks and pines and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set,
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that they may well wonder what
“the story of the trees” would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it,
or if we had ears fine enough to understand.
-Author Unknown

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 6.45.24 PM.png

When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, like us, stand on hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been given deep and sacred meanings. By observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, humanity has seen trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. Trees and their way of providing shade and shelter are adored by both wildlife and humanity alike, and the views afforded from their lofty heights are to be envied. Trees are more than simply the largest elements of the landscape or garden; over time they become like venerated companions that unfailingly stand by us throughout the seasons and storms of life. Given their size and the fact that they prevent soil erosion, provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves, play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide, moderate ground temperatures, and produce orchard fruits, trees speak to us of the largesse and power of God.

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 6.36.48 PM.png

Soon and in a blaze of glory the trees bearing the leaves in my photos will be stripped of their foliage, but though barren and seemingly no more than a silent sentry where they stands, somewhere in their core their music will play on. Muir’s idea that the fibers of the tree’s being thrills “like harp strings” at all times is true and answers Walt Whitman’s inquiry, “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” The music of life plays on in all of Creation, and like God’s presence it is never absent from us. We may not always hear the music but the melodies are there. We may be absent from the Lord, but He is never absent from us. He can be found in the lights of the sky, the colors of earth, the warmth of the sun, in waters that flow, in the wind that can be felt but not seen, and in the boughs of mighty trees. In his Celtic Psalter J. Philip Newell uses the image of trees as a revelation of God’s presence, “Like light dappling through the leaves of a tree and wind stirring its branches, like birdsong sounding from the heights of an orchard and the scent of blossom after rainfall, so you dapple and sound in the human soul, so you stir into motion all that lives.” When our ears and eyes weren’t “fine enough to understand,” God sent us His son. As we follow the star to the manger in celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks, may the music in all that God has made be heard, acknowledged, and honored.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:10  ✝

O come, O come Emmanuel!

1064. God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, “Ah!” ~Joseph Campbell

Sometimes thou may’st walk in groves,
which being full of majestie will
much advance the soul.
~Thomas Vaughn

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 4.10.09 PM.png

To rest, go to the woods
Where what is made is made
Without your thought or work.
Sit down; begin the wait
For small trees to grow big,
Feeding on earth and light.
Their good result is song
The winds must bring, the trees
Must wait to sing, and sing
Longer than you can wait.
Soon you must go. The trees,
Your seniors, standing thus
Acknowledged in your eyes,
Stand as your praise and prayer.
You rest in this praise
Of what you cannot be
And what you cannot do.
~Wendell Berry

Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers. ~Excerpts from Psalm 1:1-3  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

507. Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. ~Victor Hugo

E = mc2, WW II, Shakespeare,
Parliament, ABC, Home Ec,
Digital, Olympics, Dewey Decimal,
H2O…

Screen shot 2014-10-04 at 2.16.10 PM

If one desperately needed to laugh, he/she would probably not look first in the “groves of Academe” for that which brings the gift of uproarious laughter, but that’s where I found it yesterday. And the folks around the table at lunch, including me, whose areas of expertise are expressed above the photo, had all long been high school educators. During our time together in those “groves” we formed bonds like hydrogen does with oxygen to make a life-giving source.

We were young then and raising our families, but now decades later we’re retired. The bond we formed while we taught, however, is strong still, as it usually is, with people who share in each other’s tragedies and failures as well as rejoice in each other’s triumphs and joys. Inside and outside classroom walls, we were part of the village it takes to raise a child, ours and those of others, and overtime the village was forged into a fortress that has withstood the test of time.

After my friends and I retired, we decided to meet for lunch once a month. But because I’ve been experiencing more pain than usual this last year, I have not been joining them for a while. Though not life-threatening the arthritis in both of my feet has kept me from being able to stand very long for years.  Now the Restless Leg Syndrome I’ve been experiencing has worsened rendering some nights virtually sleepless, and the problem with my left knee that developed in January has not been resolved which keeps me hobbling around with a cane. Together these issues have lately had me spiraling down into a dark and humorless pit; so I decided last week I needed to and therefore should attend our little gathering this month, and I’m so glad I did. Though we eat in the restaurant where we meet, my friend Liz always makes dessert, and yesterday she brought her “world’s best” cheesecake. So it was that as all headed home our bellies and souls had been richly fed, and we had shared in long, joyous, and spiritually healing laughter.  Winter had been driven from my face, and now I can enjoy autumn even more than ever.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. ~Psalm 126:2a   ✝

Thank you, Lord, for these and all your “tender mercies.”

223. Sometimes Thou may’st walk in Groves, which being full of Majestie will much advance the Soul. ~Thomas Vaughan

Image

He that planteth a tree is a servant of God, he provideth a kindness for many generations, and faces that he hath not seen shall bless him.”  ~Henry Van Dyke

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace: the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  ~Isaiah 55:12

215. A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship… ~John Muir

…But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent,
their songs never cease.
Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life,
every fiber thrilling like harp strings…
~John Muir, American naturalist and author

Image

In this particular writing Muir eventually goes on to say that it’s “no wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples.”  When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, whose roots are three times the size of the tree itself, monopolize large chunks of the planet’s hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been endowed with profound and sacred meanings.  For example, by observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, many have regarded trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection.  In addition to their aesthetic appeal, trees prevent soil erosion; they provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves; they play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide; they moderate ground temperatures; and some even produce sumptuous orchard fruits.  Trees also speak to mortal men of the largeness and power of their Creator, and their lofty heights as well as the views afforded from them are envied by those who dare not climb their towering trunks.

The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  ~Genesis 2:9a  ✝