Saturday, February 15, 2014

God is in the Trees.




I had a dream the other night that I cannot shake. It wasn't happy or even a tad scary. Nor was it the typical scenario where I'm frustrated or lost or reliving past anxieties. It's tone and tenor and sense of wonderment was exhilarating.

It was about trees.

Trees have been on my mind for the last month. Snow storms have been battering my house and corner of the world. Over 700,000 people in my state lost power due to tree limbs, overtaxed by brittle ice, snapping power lines. Wind gusts have toppled stately pines throughout the region, and a fractured Cyprus branch from my neighbor's yard collided with my shed roof. (The roof is still intact.) A large branch from the very top of the Holly tree in my back yard snapped and fell like a javelin, impaling the frozen ground beneath it. And the 40 foot Maple tree in the front yard, which I had reinforced last summer with cables in the upper branches and bolts through the dual trunk, shook and twisted furiously, as each frigid storm pummeled it with sleet and snow.

My wife and I began to wonder if we should have the Maple tree removed. Its branches extend over parts of the house and the street. If one of them should break, it could be serious.

And yet, the Maple tree has been my companion and house guardian for the 37 years that we've lived here. Its bark is a wrinkled elephant grey, its shade cool and welcome in the summer. Birds grace its branches even as they poop on my cars. And the fall is a riot of red and orange leaves that become the mulch for our rear garden.

I went to sleep the other night, weighted with the thought of cutting down the Maple.

And then, something remarkable happened. I dreamt of trees. Not my Maple tree. I dreamt of trees throughout the world. Glens and forests on moors and mountain sides. Canadian wilderness and tropical rain forests stretched before me.

And then, I heard a voice. It said, "God is in the trees."

It wasn't my voice. It filled the sky and my vision and my heart.

I do not take drugs and don't drink. I have never had a revelation. But, if I lived during those times when dreams foretold miraculous births and included visits from celestial creatures, I might have believed that I had. Freud would tell me that it was my conscience. Odd that it has such a strong voice and waited 66 years to reveal itself. The theological implications of "God is in the trees" has been resonating inside me.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote: "The tree is more than just a seed, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky."

My wife and I still have to make a decision. Safety comes first.

But the life force that flows through my guardian is not unlike my own. We both have wrinkles, both seek to stand tall and straight. Storms may try to make us fall. Through all of this, I will try to remember the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

"I hear the wind among the trees
Playing the celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent
Like the keys of some great instrument."

Copyright (c) 2014 by James Hugh Comey


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