Happy Arbor Day! Today is (at least in the U.S. of A.) the day we celebrate God’s gift of trees. That’s easy for me, I’m quite fond of trees. Think where we’d be without them! Sunburned, for one thing, and what would we burn for warmth or use to build, well, most anything?
I have 4 trees on my suburban estate, 3 live oaks (sturdy, strong, and sheltering a multitude of birds) and 1 crape myrtle (a toddler among trees, but growing nicely). The crape myrtle is a new addition as of last year. Its job, as I carefully explained when I planted it, is to grow up and obscure the view from the street into my shower. It’s getting there, bless its heart. It should also, when the time comes, be covered in glorious red blooms.
Most crape myrtles in these parts are hot pink, wimpy pink, white, or lavender, but my garden design demanded a warmer color. Fortunately, McKinney, Texas is the “Crape Myrtle Capital of the World” so I was able to pick up an “Arapaho” at the Crape Myrtle Society’s Annual Sale. (That’s coming up May 15, btw, so if you want a tree of your own, click here.)
I have other favorite trees that don’t belong to me. There’s a dark purple beauty down the block that makes me smile every time I drive by. I saw glorious copper beeches on my last trip to England (Blenheim Palace, I believe it was). And in Juneau, Alaska I saw upside-down trees used as planters.
No, seriously. The story goes that the man who owned what is now Glacier Gardens had a rented “life-sized Tonka toy” at an exorbitant rate to clear debris from an avalanche. He was under strict orders from his wife to return said equipment in pristine condition. All was well until the last day when he, uh, backed it into a rock. In frustration, he grabbed (with the equipment, not his hands) a nearby tree and slammed it into the ground head-first. Which was when it occurred to him, “Huh. That looks like a planter.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
At that same garden I learned about a condition that sometimes afflicts trees. Gesturing to what looked like a perfectly happy, healthy specimen our guide explained that sometimes those trees fell over dead. They suffered “heart rot” and were slowly dying from the inside out.
I wonder how many of the people we see around us are suffering from the same condition? They may look fabulous on the outside but be dying a slow death on the inside. We don’t really know. But God does.
1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, “People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (New Century Version) Only he knows what’s really going on. Only he can heal it. Since we can’t always tell whether a person is crumbling inside or solid to the core, maybe we should cut each other a little slack.
And hug a tree.
Happy Arbor Day.