Cindy and I have lived at the end of Glidewell Road for twenty years now. It was the last weekend of January, 1990 when we moved into our new house. Thanks to neighbors, and a larger church family, we were first-time homeowners. It’s the only mortgage I have ever known. Growing up a “preacher’s kid”, I had always lived on church property.
If someone placed you where I live “unaware” (no GPS, no orientation whatsoever), you might think someone had set you down in East Tennessee. The view is almost breathtaking—especially in the autumn months. The colors are spectacular. We love it.
We have a couple of persimmon trees in our front yard. It’s not unusual in the fall, early in the morning or late in the evening, to find deer sampling the fruit. I’ll never forget seeing that for the first time soon after we had moved in. I had never witnessed such, having been raised in the city. I heard God that day, perhaps clearer than ever before. We were where we were meant to be. We were home.
I had never paid much attention to trees, not that I didn’t appreciate them. I climbed them as a boy and rode my bike in and out of them (a place we called “bicycle paradise”). But I didn’t really see them or know them at all. They were trees.
In our yard we have maple, willow, sycamore, foster holly, dogwood, redbud, and pin oak—and the two persimmon. To look at them this time of year is revealing, literally. They stand naked, stripped and unpretentious. You see them, as they really are—knots and holes, tall and erect, or broken and bent. Each to his own, individual and unique.
What you cannot see is what they will become in springtime, summer and fall. Soon enough they will be clothed in color, literally transforming the world around them. They are growing through the seasons of life. Each one beautiful in its own way.
Brother Lawrence, a medieval monk, saw people as winter trees, with little to give, stripped as it were, whom God loves anyway, unconditionally. When you get to know people, spend time with them—you find out about their leaves and color and growth. Sure, we see them, if we know them, when they are without color and cover. But if we hang in there with them, they bloom and blossom. They become.
Trees are like people. I love them.