Today April 27, 2018 is Arbor Day! To celebrate, read this amazing post by Lynne Baab —
I have always loved trees. They speak to me of God’s creativity, complexity, beauty and provision.
In high school, we had three young birch trees in our back yard. To me, they looked like young girls dancing, reflecting the joy of living in God’s beautiful world.
As a university student, I took hundreds of photos of the sun shining through trees. I particularly admired the translucence of maple leaves backlit by the sun, speaking to me of the beauty of the Light of the World.
I often remember the trees from places I’ve traveled. The first time I travelled to New Mexico and Colorado in the fall, the round, golden aspen leaves made me gasp with pleasure. The trees looked like they were covered with gold coins, a picture of God’s rich beauty and abundance.
The eucalyptus trees in Australia were a revelation. I had always loved the smell of eucalyptus trees when I visited Northern California, but I thought “eucalyptus” referred to one kind of tree. In Australia, dozens of species of eucalyptus fill the streets and parks, each species with a slightly different color or shape. Of the 700 species of eucalyptus in the world, most are native to Australia. Seeing all those different kinds of eucalyptus trees made me feel like a kid in a candy shop of trees, all of them intricately created by the Maker of all beauty.
Trees are used throughout the Bible as metaphors for various aspects of faith. The tree planted by streams of water in Psalm 1 bears fruit in its season and has green leaves even in a drought. Who is like that tree? A person who loves God, does what is right, and meditates on God’s law day and night.
The vision of God’s abundance described in Isaiah 55:12 talks about joy and peace, which will be so powerful that the mountains will sing and “all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” I read that verse for the first time as a very young Christian, during my photographing-trees-in-the-sun phase, and I posted the verse on my bulletin board because it was so vivid and joyous.
In John’s vision of heaven, recounted in Revelation 21 and 22, the river of life flows through the city, with the tree of life growing beside it, “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2). The nations so desperately need God’s healing. I wonder if those healing leaves look like maple leaves with the sun shining through them. Perhaps those healing leaves are gold, like aspen leaves in the fall.
Trees take simple ingredients – carbon dioxide from the air, water and minerals from the soil – and turn them into beautiful branches and leaves, as well as delicious fruit and precious oxygen. Because humans and other mammals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, trees give balance, providing the oxygen that is essential for human life. Without trees, the rising carbon dioxide level of the air would make life impossible for two reasons: lack of oxygen for mammals to breathe and ever increasing temperatures caused by carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect.
Arbor Day focuses on planting trees, these miracles of beauty and oxygen. The first known Arbor Day was celebrated in 1594 in Spain. The United States celebrates Arbor Day on April 27, and many other countries have their own Arbor Day. This year, to celebrate Arbor Day, plant a tree. Draw a tree. Photograph a tree. Look out your window or go outside and enjoy the trees that you can see. And don’t forget to thank God for trees.
For further reflection:
The Arbor Day Foundation provides a wonderful webpage showing the benefits of trees. Take a look here.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How they Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben will blow your mind. Did you know that trees communicate with each other? They do it through chemicals they release into the wind and through fungi and other plants in the earth. Take a look here.