To Pray with the Trees
I have always been an early riser, but since Covid-19 made its appearance, I find myself sleeping later than usual. There are no pressing matters to deal with, no visits with family or friends, no sudden ideas for blogs or books. While the days continue to fly by, I have grown restless in confinement. The hermit in me seeks a change of scene, so my day includes an hour long walk outside, in the fresh air.
Daily walks are for looking, listening, feeling, sensing. I seek especially, the great vault of the sky. It frees me. The heavy cloak of confinement drops away and I feel complete. Treetops and sky never cease to thrill me. Especially the tops of those wondrous giants that push ever upward in their search for the sun. It can be dizzying to stand beneath one (or sit or lie) and gaze upward. I love the way the mighty trunks reach for the sky. The way their leaves filter and scatter light. And yes, the way they enlighten and assist me in my search for God.
The older I get, the more insistent the demand to become all God created me to be while I still have time. Yet my efforts must be half hearted because I remain stuck in mediocrity. Instead of glorifying God for having created me, I focus on how I have failed. In a sense, reminding God that he left gaps in my formation.
“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.” writes Thomas Merton in Seeds of Contemplation. It glorifies God by being itself. “…by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do.”
A tree does not try to emulate the way another tree glorifies God. A pine does not yearn to be a peach tree, radiant with blossoms and lush with fruit. Trees have it easy. A tree is what it is.
Like trees, we glorify God by being ourselves in a way no other person ever did or will do. While God does not consult a tree when creating it, God does consult us in shaping our own lives. He gives us the freedom to choose how we will live. He works with us within the experiences each day brings.
When I get frustrated with my mistakes and failings, the trees remind me to stop thinking the work of becoming complete is mine alone. While they and the rest of creation need do nothing to become themselves, God entrusts us with the responsibility of becoming our true selves.
I look at the trees and see their sanctity. I look at myself and see a work in progress.
© Beryl Singleton Bissell 2020