Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Trees and Poetry


For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. [Ephesians 2:10]

I saw a hilltop, green and grassy and unmarred by path or mark of any kind. It sloped down into a deep valley, where a river ran, swift and cold, and it was surrounded by a tall, toothed mountain range. And on top of the hill stood an oak tree - broad and strong and ancient, the sort Druids might have gathered under for a temple.

The mental picture returned to me again and again. I pondered it, fixating on the absence of a path (I'm all about paths and maps and compasses). I explored it from every angle, wondering where I was in this space, and concluded that I stood as an observer and therefore couldn't see myself.

Finally, over a year later, when it arose yet again, I snapped. I've seen this! I know! Why do You keep showing me this?! And the answer came back, clear and kind and with a tinge of patient annoyance, You're the tree.

Oh. Oh! Ohhh. I'm the tree. That actually made perfect sense, and fit in well with last year's word of the year, pacific. To grow deep roots into well-watered soil. That slow growth is okay, because it makes for stronger wood. To shelter and nurture, to add a little acid back into the ground, to send out runners that strengthen the roots of other trees.

I was about six months into exploring the nuances of that when someone asked me what I had always wanted but never asked for. The answer sprang immediately to mind: a voice. I wanted a voice, but secretly suspected that I somehow either didn't deserve or couldn't be trusted with one.  Then, almost as quickly, I was reminded of a poem I'd memorized as a child.

I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
a nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.
["Trees" by Joyce Kilmer]

A poem lovely as a tree. I heard once that the word generally translated as "masterpiece" or "handiwork" in Ephesians 2:10 is the Greek word poiÄ“ma, where we get the English word poem from.  A poem written by God, for His glory.

Part of my word for this year, spark, is the idea of following fireflies. I'm not sure how being a tree-poem ties into anything yet, but I'm sure it will become clear eventually. In the mean time, I'll lift my leafy arms to pray, and watch for the twinkles of light that rise from the grass to draw my eyes Heavenward.

What is something you've always wanted but never asked for? Why?

1 comment:

Trish King said...

Acceptance and inclusion. I secretly fear that it won't be enough. That is why my word this year is 'contentment' I need to be happy with what I already have.