A Life Lesson From A Tree

By: William M. Johnson

“I go among the trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water.” (Wendell Berry)

My mother’s farm is about seventy percent forest. As a child I remember them “cutting timber.” We used wood to heat our home. The cows used the trees for shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. The foliage on the trees provide all life on the farm with oxygen. Most beautiful of all, the mile frontage of the farm on Highway 16, gave grand display of dogwood blossoms in the spring and the rainbow of the colorful leaves in autumn.

By word and deed, I was taught that a tree is one of God’s best creations, and like Wendell Berry, in the winter time I would often go among the trees and sit still. Listening closely I could hear the tall pines humming in the wind. I want to believe that in the stillness the oaks and the poplars, the ash and the hickory carried on the conversations. Occasionally, I would observe them nodding to each other. Through the years, some of these trees still stand guard over my mother’s farm, and bring peace and gladness to her heart and spirit. From time to time, she tells me about her “praying” tree.

Years ago I became distraught because a tree I thought was on “my” property was on my neighbor’s lot. Finally it dawned on me that even if the tree was on my lot it was not my tree. Simply, it would have been entrusted to me for a brief time I “owned” the lot. It was a great life lesson I learned that day, and I have tried to remember that whatever I “own” is only on loan. Thanks beautiful tree on Phoenix Hill Drive for speaking God’s liberating word to me.

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.  Psalm 24:1a.