This might not be a grove of trees, by anyone’s imagination, still in my imagination…I do see a grove of four trees (one day) forming a perimeter to shade and embrace a special sanctuary for years to come. A place where magic, imagination, and spirituality live as one.
This first line from the famous poem “A Forest Hymn” – title of today’s blog- (William Cullen Bryant) brings back so many memories of church camp. As homesick as I was at summer camps…I found peace each evening at Vespers as we sat around a campfire in the middle of a forest full of trees… reading scripture, telling Bible stories. and singing beautiful old hymns.
I remember feeling closer to God, for the first time, in those old childhood camp setting memories! The stars seemed to me to be angels winking down at us and letting me know I was not alone. I had never felt that in a man-made edifice of worship.
John Muir, the famous naturalist and spiritualist, re-told an incident he saw involving mother nature and the trees that convinced him that trees have feelings too….and like all of us, they simply want to live another day in God’s beautiful playground…not cut down to build a man-made conception of worship.
Clouds at noon occupying about half the sky gave half an hour of heavy rain to wash one of the cleanest landscapes in the world. How well it is washed!… How fresh the woods are and calm after the last films of clouds have been wiped from the sky!
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.
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, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves.
No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. ~John Muir, 1869 July 24th
Since my yard is surrounded by tough, old pine trees that survived Hurricane Hugo….I found these two reflections on pine trees familiar and endearing.
You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night. ~Denise Levertov
(* I have experienced both)
Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Woodnotes”
These three quotes about our green friends spoke to me…and made me smile.
1) The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.
2) There is always music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~Minnie Aumonier
3) The oaks and the 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 we may well wonder what “the story of the trees” would be to us if they had tongues to tell it, or we ears fine enough to understand.
~Author unknown, quoted in Quotations for Special Occasions by Maud van Buren, 1938
And now perhaps our tree huggers’ anthem that we have come to adore.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
’Til it’s gone…
~Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi,” lyrics written circa 1967–68, © Siquomb Publishing Company
( Take a minute and quietly listen to the lyrics again of this song that loves God’s Playground and warns of man’s destruction of it)
I might not be a “tree hugger,” as defined in our society, but I have certainly been known to pat a tree on its bark and wish it a good day!
That is why I will have the grandchildren name their trees as they get older…because I want them to understand that a tree is a friend who will always be there for you…to listen and lift your spirits…if you let them.
Mary Fennermore, Chris Frazier’s friend, and our blog friend too, who lives in Delaware….commented on how trees have played a big part in her life and then shared a wonderful poem associated with her father’s memory.
In reading your blog every morning it never ceases to amaze me of the similarities in our lives. The most recent is our mutual love of TREES. As I child, here on the farm, I spent a lot of time outside, climbing trees, swinging on my swing in the huge black walnut tree next to our house and walking through the woods, filled with all sorts of trees. To this day I love to look up into ANY type of tree and see the pattern the leaves make against the sky (like I did when I was swinging!)
My grandfather planted an English walnut tree that is, some 80 years later, a focal point of our Country Store. Everyone comments on it! So to me, trees speak of the past, the present and the future and I am blessed by their timeless beauty and strength. Everywhere I go trees “say” different things to me. For instance….Palm Trees say….”You’re on Vacation…YAY!!” And apple and peach trees say…”Aren’t we miraculous? Our flowers turn into fruit!”
Let me leave you with a poem that I found in some of my Dad’s “stuff” many years ago that I had made into a calligraphy picture to hang in our farm office some years ago.
Old men who Plant Young Apple Trees – The Whole World Leans on Such as These!!!
The day that he was seventy-two,
Grandfather had a task to do:
A special job that could not wait,
Lest some tomorrow be too late,
Slow were his movements, but content
His heart, as to the task he bent
Of setting out young apples trees ~
Six slender stalks. Upon old knees
He knelt to place young roots with care ~
Whose fruiting he would never share.
Someday a child he’d never know
Would wander down the shaded row,
Some star-eyed girl, some lusty boy,
To share his apples – and his joy.
(S. Omar Baker)
So until tomorrow….Help us Father be a good a steward to your gift of life as our friends, the trees, are. We can learn a lot from them.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* Pam Stewart had put this picture/message on FaceBook and I asked her if I could use it for the blog…love the message.