Sunday, January 20, 2008

To ponder a tree

Trees are weird. I mean, really... if you take the time to stop and think about them, they're weird. They only sort of make sense.

A large trunk covered with old dead tree parts - the bark, without which, they couldn't survive. Roots, stretching down into the grown, pulling water and nutrients out of the soil. Branches extending up into the sky, twisting and themselves branching many times, covered in leaves: soaking in the sunlight so vital to a tree's life.

And most of them just look strange if you actually stop to look. (Most of us don't, most of the time.) They're shaped in ways that defy our design aesthetic. Seemingly random twists in the branches. Branches that split out of a tall central trunk, or that the tall central trunk simply becomes in a cleaving that is completely smooth and organic but somehow abrupt as well. Limbs jutting up into the sky and down toward the ground, bending now one way and now another as they sway in the wind. Roots, gnarled and twisted and usually invisible, plunging deep into the ground: knobby anchors that tether the tree against the wind and the rain and the storms - the inverse of the branches in their own tangled splitting and crossing under the surface of the earth.

Like I said: trees are weird.

They're also incredible and amazing.

I don't think I would have thought of trees. Certainly not as they are. My mind works too singularly, too unidirectionally. The subtle turns in the branches, the splitting where you least expect it, the husk of older tree material used for artistic protection against the elements... all beyond me. But more so, the idea itself. Trees. They're just big oxygen machines, in some sense - but they live. They breathe. They pull nutrients from sky and soil in an unceasing but unconscious process of resource management that is unparalleled in both its simplicity of concept and complexity of execution. The cell cycle of trees is amazing: so different from animals, so elegant, so flexible. The way the system works together over the course of seasons and years is astounding: conserving energy throughout the winter - even sacrificing parts of the tree (like the leaves) to survive, then growing quickly and efficiently with rapid nutrient intake and throughput in the spring and summer: it's an incredible process.

And they exist for more than the need for oxygen for animals. Most of that work is done by algae. No, God mostly made trees, I think, because they're cool, crazy - and beautiful.

Think about it: trees didn't have to be the wonders they are to do everything they do. They could have been simpler geometrical constructions had He desired, absent the incredible aesthetic that defines them, that leaps into our mind when we think tree. And so it is with all. Yet this great Architect delights in more than function: form is as much a part of His design - elegance, mingled simplicity and complexity, eye-pleasing curves.

And more than that: when He made us in His image, He gave us eyes that could see, hands that could touch, ears that could hear, noses that could smell, mouths that could taste, and - oh so much more importantly - minds that could know beauty, that could stop to ponder trees. Incredible.

Most of the time, though, we don't ponder - not trees or anything else. We scurry here and there, worried about the minutia of our lives and, too often, failing to live. We are here for the glory of God - but it's difficult to live for His glory when we miss all the evidences of His glory that He leaves around us.

So stop and think about trees. And if you've already had your mind blown by trees, consider squirrels. Now those are crazy...

- Chris


  1. LOL! I love it!
    Especially, "And if you've already had your mind blown by trees, consider squirrels. Now those are crazy..."

    You're so right that we don't often stop scurrying (like squirrels) to stop and ponder the glorious creation that we've been given to enjoy.

  2. Not that I doubted you, really, but, OMW! That's really in the dictinary!!! Okay ... had to pause in mid-reading to acknowledge my OMW!

    (guess my mind works too ...ummm ... plurally - and guess what?! I checked! That's in there, too!!! I don't get to coin a new word tonight!!! HAHAHAHAHA)

  3. Very funny ... and excellent!

    And if squirrels don't have you baffled ... try little girls!!! They'll drive the best of em nuts everytime!

    I've said since mine were toddlers that law schools ought to send their law students into preschool classrooms ... to see if they can "win" against a ... say, three or four year old?!!! Would be funny!!!

  4. okay ... now would you like to know the word I was referring to but totally FORGOT to include!


    unidirectionally :)


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