I love trees.Â Some more than others, but Iâ€™m always amazed at the bloom of the Redbuds in the spring, the wonderfully straight and tall Tuliptrees when reaching for light dominance in a cluster, Sycamores coursing alongside a stream, and the sinewy musculature of the trunk of a Blue Beech (American Hornbeam).
In our backyard, we have a bird feeding area sheltered within a variety of trees: a too-large Blue Spruce, two Redbuds, a clump of Silky Dogwoods, a Baldcyprus and a Hemlock.Â Itâ€™s a maze and something has to go. Joyce is adamant about letting them be, I canâ€™t wait to clean out the mess.Â Every time we walk out back, we discuss which one is going to go.
Someday we will come to a consensus.
Next to the bird feeding area is my pride and joy, a “grove” of twenty-three fir Christmas trees.Â I ordered them about eight years ago from a nursery, nursed them to independence and transplanted them in my grove.Â I have both Balsam and Fraser firs.Â Never having sheared an evergreen for Christmas tree form, Iâ€™ve learned by trial and error.Â They actually look fairly impressive!Â I hope to sell six or so (by donation to Central Christian School) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
What amazes me is that they are all the same age, yet each is different in size.Â Some are still small and spindly, others are quite tall and ready for the taking.Â Some are quite rotund, others are skinny and sparsely adorned, still others are densely foliated. Iâ€™ve wondered, “How is this? Genetics?Â Poor nursery experience at an early age?”Â Theyâ€™ve all lived together, drank the same water, and soaked in the same sunlight.
We humans arenâ€™t much different than my fir trees.Â Even within families, reared with the same parental instruction and opportunities, children can end up in such different places.Â The same is true for matters of faith.
The Apostle Paul notes that the Israelites shared commonalities of deliverance from Egypt, guidance from God and spiritual “food” and “water”, yet many fell away from the faith (I Corinthians 10:1ff).Â Iâ€™ve wondered, “How can this be?”Â Perhaps itâ€™s found in our relative freedom to choose from the variety of opportunities that come our way from the hand of God.Â It reminds me of the “Two roads diverged in a wood” poem by Robert Frost.
Iâ€™m forever grateful for choosing the one less traveled. Itâ€™s made all the difference.