Conversations with the trees…
We have some great trees in our garden. I’m sitting under one now – a great, tall birch tree, with long, drooping branches that reach down almost to the ground, and provide great shade from the sun, and a wonderful, cool place to sit and read.
I often hear God speaking when I’m looking at trees. He reminds me of the importance of having deep roots, like trees – roots which go down deep, and tap in to streams of living water. He reminds me of descriptions of the Kingdom of God being like a tiny mustard seed, which over time grows to become like a tree – one in which the birds can make nests, and perch in its branches.
Over the last month, I have been thinking and reading again about healthy habits and rhythms for disciples of Jesus. I’ll write more on this another time, but my focus has been particularly on habits of simplicity, solitude and silence.
And there is one tree in particular in our garden, through which God has challenged me to tidy up my habits and rhythms of life….
This particular tree used to be a real favourite of mine. It looked really good – it’s branches looked really well formed, it was a great shape, it had really green leaves – and it was just the right distance from another tree to tie up a hammock to!! This tree looked great and seemed strong and dependable.
But one day last year it blew down. We had some fairly strong winds, and the whole tree broke off from the bottom of its trunk, and landed upside down on the lawn nearby (almost demolishing the swing set in the process!). As you can imagine, it took a while to clear up the mess – chainsawing the tree down into small pieces and chipping the wood (I even mulched the end of my finger doing this – but that’s another story).
Once we’d got everything tidied up, which took a while, I had another look at the remaining trunk of this tree, and saw that the inside of the trunk was actually really weak. It was rotten, and really dry and powdery….. No wonder this tree had blown over in the wind.
That was all a while ago. The garden is tidy(ish) again now. The swing set is fully accessible again. My finger has grown a new end!!
But as I was sitting out here in the garden over the summer – enjoying the sunshine and observing the many plants and trees which needed pruning (!) – I found myself looking at the stump of this dead tree again….
Was I sometimes in danger of being like that tree? I may well appear to be healthy and strong and doing well on the outside, but what would happen if the winds picked up a bit? It’s one thing to stand tall during fine weather – but how would I go if storm clouds began to gather, if the wind began to blow?
I reached the conclusion over the summer, through this conversation with the trees (!), that I was at risk of becoming like this particular tree, that God was drawing my attention to this tree as a gentle warning…
“Don’t forget to connect with me. Don’t neglect time to invest in your inner life. Make space and time to come to rest, to be at peace, to know and be able to trust that I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go. And I love you.”
The habits and rhythms of followers of Jesus from years ago, including the habits of simplicity, and solitude, and silence, have a huge amount to offer and teach us today about nurturing and growing our inner, hidden lives as Jesus followers….
And I, for one, am challenged and inspired to dig into these age-old habits and traditions, and rediscover how to grow healthy and strong in the areas of my life that no-one else can see…. until it’s too late.