Gentle giants showing their age… Beech trees responding to another warmer season. In just a few short weeks they had received a bright green makeover, and paraded their party togs with pride.
It was still and quiet in the wood. Footsteps crunching through last year’s leaves and the infrequent song of the birds were the only real sounds.
Something about the strength and dignity of these old Lords of the Forest held my attention.
Pitted and scarred by the experience of the years; damage from insect, storm and time has marred the beech bark. One tree already uprooted, perchance victim of an unnoticed tragedy? Who knows when or why it fell? Younger saplings will make their takeover bid in due time. For now, these mighty beeches stand, adding leaf-mould every autumn and hosting the harbingers of Spring after every winter’s cold tale. In their summer prime, the canopy of green provides shelter, food and pleasure to all life that passes through the wood.
At first sight, these are just old trees, marked by the ravages of time. Spend time here in the wood, and listen, and the story of persistence and fruitfulness will be told again. Ravaged? Maybe.
Badges of honour, I would say. They have grown where they were planted, they have done their part in the long story of the years- they have outlasted many humans- and they have given away their seed with generous purpose.
Here’s a thought. As I look back over the last thirty or so years of sharing in Christian community, I have seen a marvellous selection of strong, dignified, generous people. Marked by the passage of time, wounded and pained by failures and successes, they still stand firm on their faith foundation. Old? True enough… but wise, and patient, and persistent. Love has brought them this far, and the future holds no dread. Kindly endurance gives backbone to their “forest” and the long tale of their years encourages the next generations. Blessed are those whose roots dig deep into the rich soil of Eden’s distant cousin. Blessed are those who drink deep of the Water of Life and share their fruitfulness. To them is promised a Spring with no more Winter.
Living life to the full means risking the scars and inheriting the Kingdom. Give thanks for the giants we have known, honour them in our prayers, observe their example. A well-wrinkled face is a portrait of love lived with a smile in the heart. Alleluia!