Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Odd Looking Tree

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalms 34:11

It was some years ago when I was asked to visit a lady who was hospitalized in the small community where I ministered.  Over the weeks that followed before her death we shared a lot about life.  She told me of the poems she wrote and shared a few with me.  They were truly heart-felt expressions of many of the experiences and emotions of life.

She had told me that she felt certain that no one would want them when she died and that they would end up somewhere in an old trunk in an attic labeled “The Crazy Aunt’s Stuff.”  However, after she died a family member brought me an envelope with pages of typed verse.

I poured over the material and have had opportunity to use it as she asked.  In the midst of the pages there was this brief verse that has stayed with me for decades.  I love its simplicity and profundity.
“I learned long ago
How to bend, twist, dodge and evade
The blows that threatened to break me.
So, here I stand.
Complete, unshattered.
Of course, my shape is peculiar.”  Jo – July 1967

I am reminded of a rather odd tree that grows in Aruba.  The famous Divi Divi or Watapana tree is Aruba's natural compass, always pointing in a southwesterly direction.  This is due to the trade winds that blow across the island from the north-east.  From the time it begins to grow it is influenced by the constant winds coming from east to west.  The trunk is usually bent parallel to the ground and pointing southwest.  Although the tree attempts to grow upright, the constant pressure of the wind maintains a predominantly horizontal growth.  The result?  A rather odd looking tree.

There is another fact about the tree and that is its bark.  It is hard.  So hard, even the goats leave it alone.  There is also a substance within the tree that makes the goats sick when they eat it.  That substance is used for the tanning of leather.

I’ve known some people like that.  Life has left them bent and twisted.  Not only that, they are bitter and hard.  After so long an exposure to the elements they have given up and just gone with the wind.  They are sad to observe and difficult to deal with.  I wonder what made them the way they are.

I am reminded by this of a verse from Proverbs that says, Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 Just like the Divi Divi tree, huh?  Maybe that time we spend making sure our kids don’t get blown around by life is worth it after all.

God, I thank you for the parents, grandparents, teachers and siblings who give of their time and lives to help set the course for the children.  Life is so tough today and there are so many ill winds that blow.  May we remember that the days of growing up are crucial to the happiness, direction and strength of every child.  Thank you for letting us be used to help them grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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