Trees Take the Long View
“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”
I have always loved trees: the prehistoric ginkgo, the Angel Oak, the sweet Southern magnolia, a grove of olive trees, the elegant weeping willow. I fell in love with my husband hiking Sewanee’s famous Perimeter Trail beneath a towering fortress of pine trees. For my 40th birthday, David gifted me with pairs of apple, pear, plum, and cherry trees. The cover illustration for my first book, Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree, sums up my evergreen devotion perfectly with a tree carved with a heart.
Trees symbolize hope for me, as they seem to take the long view of life. Serene instead of reactive, trees focus on the things that matter. They ground themselves deeply in an intricate root system, point themselves to the sun, practice resilience in the face of changing seasons, and keep a stoic eye on the legacy they are leaving. In the stillness of the forest, I have become convinced that trees have figured out the secret: Every kind of love makes this planet turn.
Mother Nature has kindly provided an arbored chapel for me to visit over the years. It is a sacred place where I can let down my guard, be vulnerable, weep without judgment, seek inspiration, and gain wisdom for the path ahead. The trees are my Confessors. If they could talk, you would know the intimacies of my heart. I often run the 5.8 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville. It usually takes a good mile or two before I relax, leave the world behind, and settle in for a conversation with my Creator. I’m not sure I could breathe, do all that I do, endure with some measure of grace if I did not spend some time each week whispering to the trees. Usually, they just listen to me banter on about the minutia of my life. But that’s the only way I know how to be with God. The relationship just would not work if there was a formality, polite niceties and perfect prayers. I feel like God knows me more intimately than I know even myself (Psalm 139), so that I can speak from the secret places of my being. I’m known and loved under those trees.
When life knocks me down, I run to the woods. A lovely hooting owl ushers me into my familiar evergreen refuge. I don’t even have to say a word. I know the trees are listening. God will handle me with tenderness. In these moments, I feel as if the trees are doing the Holy One’s bidding and pulling my spirit into a loving embrace. I leave buoyed to face whatever is ahead.
Today, I gift you with an incredible short documentary film about the nobility of trees by my childhood friend Michael Holmes. The cinematography is lush, the words are pure poetry, and the message strikes a chord. You are getting a sneak peek before it gets much-deserved attention in the creative community. Like me, Michael finds beauty, inner peace and the larger meanings of life in Mother Nature’s embrace. The natural world remains God’s most treasured gift to humankind. We must shift our role from mere receiver to healer.
In this wild and topsy turvy world, discover your own evergreen altar in nature. A safe and beautiful place to come and be heard.
Sometimes I wish I could live in the trees.
It’s where I feel Your embrace.
It’s quiet and I can think.
Secrets not meant for anyone slip out and lose their
power beneath Your evergreen cathedral.
I carve this prayer into the massive oak:
“Be with me whenever, however, forever.”
The tears come; sometimes they flood my path.
A rosary of names is quietly entrusted to You.
Take care of those I love.
Hope finally comes in little
glimmers breaking through
Your eternal canopy.
A grateful Amen.