Trees evoke thoughts of spring and Easter

Nancy Farley Published:

Does anything rival the beauty of our area in the spring of the year? I don’t think so unless it is October, my favorite month. The fresh green color of new grass, even the bursts of yellow dandelions remind me of childhood drawings when little ones get overly generous with the crayons. And each time I see that grass meeting the clear blue sky I remember the old rule we had when I was a teenager – never wear green with blue.  Who made up that rule?
Sometimes as we grow older, we tend to find more beauty in those “simple” things, if you want to call nature simple. One of my favorite gifts is a picture that a student gave to me when I was teaching at Kentucky State University several years ago. It is a painting of a little school house with a dark blue evening sky as the backdrop, with an apple tree in the front yard loaded down with red apples, and a swing set positioned near that tree.
She painted it for her class in elementary art, but when I saw it and said I liked it, she smiled and handed it to me.  It stayed on my office wall until I retired, and now it is hanging near the treadmill downstairs, causing me to smile when I see it even during such a laborious task as walking on that dreadful machine.  I wish I could walk fast and far enough to find that place, to sit beneath that tree and eat a juicy apple.
 While the entire picture is beautiful to me, it is the tree that stands out the most. Call them simple, but think of the trees that grew in the yards of your childhood homes, or remember the ones you planted when you bought that first house. I have a friend who says her boyfriend (now husband) kissed her for the first time under what he called the “Kissing Tree.” “We can’t go past this tree without a kiss,” he said.
Trees have played an important role in our lives, creating memories, not to mention shade and beauty.  When I sang in our high school chorus, we did a song, one that was actually a poem written by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918).  While Kilmer was criticized for his simplicity in writing, I certainly don’t agree.
Trees
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks to God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.
 
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
 
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 
During this time, on this Easter Sunday, we are reminded of another kind of tree, and a special song written by one of my brother’s old friends, Chuck Lawrence, who ended up selling the copyright to Barbara Mandrell a decade ago.  It is one of my favorites:
 
He Grew the Tree
He molded and built a small lonely hill
That He knew would be called Calvary.
Then He made the seed that would grow to be
Thorns that would make His Son bleed.
Then He made a green stem
Gave it leaves and then gave it sunshine and rain and
Sheltered it with moss.
He grew the tree He knew would be
Used to make the Old Rugged Cross.
 
With tears in His eyes God looked down through time
Saw Him spat upon rejected and mocked.
Still He knew the tree He knew would be
Used to make the Old Rugged Cross.
 
Nothing took His life with love He gave it.
He was crucified on a tree that He created.
With great love for man
God gave His plan.
 
He grew the tree that we might go free.
 
Still He grew the tree He knew would be
Used to make the Old Rugged Cross.
 
And so, the next time you look at a tree, whether it be one in your yard, in the forest, or even in a child’s drawing, just remember that trees are not really all that simple.  Poems and stories are made by fools like me, but I know that it is only God who can create a tree. I thank you Joyce Kilmer for those lovely verses, for that song that still plays in my mind from my years of singing in the high school chorus. And thank you Chuck Lawrence for writing from your heart those words that remind us of what Easter is all about.

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