Much has been made in popular fiction, film and television industries about “the walking dead“ and “the living dead” – tied to the idea of surviving in a world following a “zombie apocalypse.” (Confession: I haven’t followed the genre, myself.)
Last year when walking local community trails I took specific note of certain trees – hardwoods with gnarled trunks and multi-directional branches, as well as stately evergreens. They impressed me. But why?
They were dead.
Dead. And yet, I saw beauty in them.
I saw life in the midst of their state of death.
Left standing till fallen in the woodland, they continued giving.
Other trees, while obviously dying, still lived.
My wife and I were informed that some years ago lightning twice struck the grand old maple in our backyard, severely damaging it. A barkless section of dead wood, peppered with insect holes, reaches from the ground right up to the branch level on one side. Limbs had fallen, while others were cut off to help it survive. It is dying a slow death. However, nature sometimes compensates, as often happens after someone has suffered stroke or some significant debilitation.
And so, life surges up the healthy side of our tree each spring and it still buds and seeds, and produces enough foliage to help shade the deck and house from the searing sun. We’ve witnessed that cycle now for the four spring seasons we’ve lived here.
These dead and dying stalwarts of nature’s benevolence drew my gaze upward, both literally and figuratively.
I realized that, once dead and left to the processes of nature, many trees keep on giving. They continue to afford shelter and food for thousands of mites and insects and burrowing creatures, and serve as hosts to fungi, and generally support life.
On a more recent walk I noted that many of those trees were still standing beautiful, stark and serene, years after their death. Others had finally fallen, having succumbed to post-death rot and the ravages of the elements. I was moved as I mused and later returned to take snapshots of them.
Trees are true givers. Many, during their lifetime of decades or a hundred and more years, provide blossoms for nectar and honey production. Trees that produce fruit or nuts or seeds of some kind provide food for humans and animals, and perpetuate their own species.
They also provide shade and shelter for a great variety of creatures and are “the lungs of the planet,” by re-oxygenating the atmosphere. And where would we be without the vast array of products manufactured from wood!
Generally-speaking, whenever we enter our homes or sit on a wooden chair, we continue to benefit from the gift legacy of a tree once living, now dead.
Yes, giving — in death.
Will the issues of my life and yours continue to feed more than the little creatures that help to return our mortal remains to the dust? Will a legacy of giving continue after we’re gone, through positive, wholesome investments and impacts in the lives of others, made during our earthly lives?
Paul, the Apostle, commended his team-mate Timothy’s mother and grandmother, for providing him a great legacy of faith:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV2011).
May our testimony to God’s grace continue to stand, once our tree of life has fallen.
Positive reader feedback for the book “Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart.” Some have purchased second and third copies – and even a fourth – to give to family members and friends.
Available from author for $17.00 (list price $19.50) + $5.50 shipping to an address in Canada. See Contact Form below.
Ebook version now available. Click: Raise Your Gaze … EbookNow out: Raise Your Gaze – Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart collection of 52 articles from P-Pep! column, sprinkled with Words to Bless. Inspirational; some biographical. 190 pp. ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3 Available from Angel Hope Publishing: Angelhopepublishing@glynisbelec.com ; www.glynisbelec.com Amazon.com ; Amazon.ca Ebook version now available.
Reader reflections of “Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings . . .” indicate how much they’ve enjoyed its variety as well as the format and structure. They like its warmth, human interest stories and encouraging inspiration.
Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children’s / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing. 39 stories, 232 pp, b/w illustrations. Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. List price $15.99. Available through bookstores, the author and at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca
The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults. His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate (of Southwestern Ontario). His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario. ~~+~~