For the Love of Trees (And Why They are Good for our Souls)

Eden State Park, FL Photo taken by Miriam Gilliom

I love trees. They are good for our souls, me thinks. At least, there have been some trees in my life that have been a great comfort and solace to me. And I know I’m not the only one.

Photo taken by Mandy Petty www.facebook.comlattedaimagery

There was this young Jewish girl, Anne Frank, who died in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. You most likely know her story already. Before she died her and her family hid for a little over two years in a secret room upstairs, above her family’s business. I feel sad when I think about her sufferings. How she couldn’t even go outside. No running in the yard after lunch. Or walking over to the ditch to pick wildflowers or check on the wild blackberry bushes. There were a few times at night when she would sneak up to the roof and look up at the stars, but she wasn’t able to do this much.

Photo taken by Linda Largent–Ozark Dogwood in morning light

Photo taken by Jessica Roberson–Collins Creek at JFK Park, Heber Springs

Photo taken by Janet Thayer–Indiana Evergreens

The only bit of outside she could enjoy was the view she had from a single window. There she could look out and gaze upon that one chestnut tree that filled up her view. It was through that tree that she observed the seasons change and no doubt that tree became a great comfort. She wrote in her diary:

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

Photo by Laci Frazier, Palm trees at sunset, www.lacifrazierphoto.com

Photo by Heather Pedersen, www.mrssouthernbride.com

I’m acquainted with that–the remedy of a tree.

Sometimes when I see a particularly beautiful tree, I don’t mind what I look like and I pause for a bit on the sidewalk or in the yard or on the parking lot and I just go ahead and smile and look up till my heart is full and calm and content.

Photo by Robin VanGundy, Great Island Common in Newcastle, NH

Photo by Catherin Blankenship, “Evening walk in Middle Earth.”

Photo by Diana Davis, Ozark Maple

I don’t know if you’re this way, but I get attached to certain trees. They become like old friends. That tall evergreen on the way to town, that hardwood in the woods next to my house, where I sometimes go and sit underneath it and peer up at the stars through its wide reaching branches.

I’ve always been that way. As a little girl, I had a small peach tree in the middle of the front yard that was easy to climb up in (seeing as I’ve always been a shorty pants) and I’d often retreat to those little branches after school and read a book or look out across the field or just sit and think.

Photo by Alicia Hofer, www.aisforindia.blogspot.com

Photo by Shelly Statton, www.stattonlife.blogspot.com

One of my favorite poets, Ralph Spaulding Cushman must have loved trees as much as I do because he wrote a fair amount of poetry about them. I’m particularly fond of this one:

I Love a Tree

I love a tree,
A brave, upstanding tree!
When I am wearied in the strife,
Beaten by storms and bruised up by life,
I look up at a tree and it refreshes me.
If it can keep its head held high,
And look the storms straight in the eye,
Ready to stand, ready to die,
Then by the grace of God can I–
At least with Heaven’s help, I’ll try
I love a tree, for it refreshes me!

I love a tree!
When it seems dead,
Its leaves all shorn and bared its head,
When winter flings its cold and snow,
It stands there undismayed by woe:
It stands there waiting for the spring–
A tree is such a believing thing.
I love a tree,
For it refreshes me.

Sandy Hanebutt High Rolls,  NM

Photo by Sandy Hanebutt, Trees in High Rolls, NM

Clyde Kilby, a professor in English Literature at Wheaton College, once resolved,

I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what C. S. Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

Photo by Roslyn Sullivan taken in Seabrook, SC

I remember reading his lecture and feeling as if he had spoken my language right back to me. Trees can be so good for our busy, frenzied souls if we’ll just take the time to notice them.

Photo by Pat Bundus, “The Living Green.”

So, I guess I just wanted to say to you,

Go notice a tree. Open up your eyes to really see it.

Nicole Morrow (link to the Treehouse ministries) Lake Anna, Virginia

Photo by Nicole Morrow, An old road in Lake Anna, Virginia, www.thetreehouseministries.org

Climb up into its branches. I dare you. Or just sit at the foot of an old maple or an oak and enjoy its “divine, magical and ecstatic existence.”

You’ll be gladder than you were before. And perhaps even a little comforted.

I promise.

Photo by Matt Singer–A rusty old oak

A special shout out to my friends who sent me their own pictures of trees. Thank you, guys, for sharing your trees with me!

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