Skip to main content

Broken branches and twisted trunks

Over the past four nights, we have been hit with the typical summer monsoon storms common in late summer here in Arizona.  These storms come with huge micro-bursts of strong wind, heavy rains, and sometimes even hail mixed in.  It seems impossible it would hail when it is 110 degrees outside, but low and behold the stuff comes! Many are still without power in various portions of the various cities surrounding Phoenix, struggling to regroup after not one, but four storms of severity significant enough to rip power lines from their place in the ground and overflow storm drains and retention basins alongside the road. My brother is tending his generator and living with the heat right now to keep the refrigerator and freezer running so they don't lose all their store of fish, game, and the like he puts away each year.  As I make my way to work each morning, I encounter new patches of muddied pavement where gushing waters have washed dirt from the yards into the streets.  I also pass many a downed tree, twisted and tattered by the strong winds of the night before.  As I pass these trees, sometimes huge in size and hard to imagine the force it must have taken to split 8-10 inch limbs from their hold, I am reminded again of who it is we hold to in the midst of the storms in our own lives - Christ and Christ alone.

Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught. (Colossians 2:7 CEB)

The Palo Verde is a large green barked tree common to our area. It is often planted along the streets as it requires very little water and is easily maintained.  I have noticed something though about the various trees planted along the roadways - some are uprooted while others just lose a limb or two.  The Chinese Elm, although growing to nice proportions in a short period of time, are easily uprooted. The eucalyptus is huge in comparison to the elm or the palo verde, but it is also found uprooted, often with 8-10 foot root base exposed when it topples to the ground.  The palo verde, on the other hand, is still rooted. Although a portion of the limbs may be splinted and fallen, the tree remains upright and solidly rooted. Is there a lesson for us in these trees?  

I think of the elm, growing quickly, giving much needed shade under the expansive boughs it boasts.  I ponder the eucalyptus growing taller than the houses, sending branches high into the sky.  Then I see the palo verde, prickly with those bright green thorns, festooned at times with bright yellow flowers, and with long, narrow leaves which provide shade, but not like either of the other trees. What allows the palo verde to withstand the winds?  I think it may be the root structure - but I think it could just be how it was created.  The palo verde wasn't created for the lush river banks or beach fronts of this world.  It wasn't created for the parks where picnickers will spread their blankets and luxuriate in its shade. It was created to withstand the times of drought and the tests of strong winds!

Some things you might not know about this beautiful green tree:

- It is totally green.  Bark and leaves are this beautiful bright green color.  At first this may not seem important, but the bark of this tree can do what other tree bark cannot - it can photosynthesize.  Why does this matter?  It allows the leaves to be smaller - something the other trees struggle with because those larger leaves allow moisture to evaporate, making them less drought tolerant.  What the palo verde lacks in "big leaves" which give the appearance of lushness and "promising growth" it makes up for in the adaptability it boasts!  Maybe there is a lesson for us there - not to focus so much on the leaves as a sign of growth, but how adaptable (or teachable) one might be when things get tough!

- It sheds its leaves and even allows a few branches to die off in order to continue to grow when dry seasons affect it.  The palo verde will shed the leaves, allowing all the water it can obtain to go to the sustenance of the roots and trunk of the tree.  It will even allow some of the branches to die - knowing it can send off new growth when the rains return.  This may not seem too significant at first, but when lean times come, if all we do is focus on making everything look "normal" in our lives, we will be frustrated and exhausted by the work it takes to maintain "normal" in our lives! We might do well to be more concerned with where we find our "center" and less concerned with what onlookers might think when they see us.

- It provides shelter for the smallest of life.  I have some of these trees in my neighborhood and love to watch the hummingbirds and finches each year returning to nest in their branches. The consistent strength of this tree provides shelter for those who seek the stability and structure for their protection in times of even the worst of storms.  Yes, it may lose a limb or two, but the growth of the tree is preserved despite the forces which seek to take it down, making this a great place of refuge for those who seek its shelter!  

- It is easily grown.  It is a prolific tree, sending off seed pods each season, with seeds being carried by the winds and birds into the next place it will take root.  It doesn't need lush soil, or the raging sources of water.  It needs a rocky crag, or a tiny crack in the parched earth - then in those seasons when the rains come, it takes quick root, beginning the rapid cycle of change and growth which make this tree seemingly "spring up out of nowhere" in our desert lands.  Maybe there is a lesson for us there, too.  Maybe we think we need the best of conditions for our growth to be the deepest and most "lasting", but maybe we'd do well to consider what the "not so optimal conditions" may just produce when we are correctly "adapted" for the place we are planted!  Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce

Scrubbed Up and Ready to Go!

Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean