Trees


It has finally started to cool off here for autumn. I do love autumn although each season holds its own joy and glory. God gives us so many gifts if we take the time to see them and experience them in full. I love the way the trees change in every fashion. The leaves changing from every hue of green to a spectrum bursting with every color mankind can perceive. They reach the apex of their existence, pulsating with the crescendo of their entire lives into one final display of beauty. Their final act is the graceful descent of each leaf to the forest floor where they will provide life sustaining nutrients to the next generations. But it is not only the leaves that change. If your hand caresses the trunk or branches of a tree in all four seasons you will feel a distinct difference in texture and tension in the bark. in Spring, it is velvety and supple as the water has been drawn through its roots to nourish the leaves, seeds and fruits of any given tree. The river of water is being drawn up into each vein until it reaches the canopy. That gives the tree flexibility needed for growth. The summer season solidifies it’s strength allowing it to withstand the fierce storms that serve as threshers of the weak or those whose roots have not dug down deeply enough to hold fast to the earth.

Autumn is not a prelude to it’s death or long sleep as many perceive it but it is a culmination of two seasons of growth, fruition, experience, and hardiness. It is during autumn that the tree is able to spend everything it has collected in an effort to prepare for the next generations. It is spending considerable effort to build storage wares for the long winter ahead, deny nutrients to parts of itself that have proven weak, destructive, or useless. Everything is moving at a slower pace but the strength is building. The perseverance and fortitude is at an all-time high because it does not have to prepare for the possible as there are only inevitable occurrences in its lifecycle. Of course, there are always outside forces that could interrupt, change or halt its progression in some manner but it only knows to continue. If cut down, its stump will bud. If insect or disease hit then its seeds have already carried its lineage forward to places far from harm. If drought or flood should move in then it may retreat until the environment is welcoming once again but it always moves forward, beyond the now into an uncertain and unknown future because that is what it was created to do. Even if its wood is used to create something for our use, it is then transformed and its life has more meaning than it had to begin with. Consider how many important choices are made by mankind sitting in a wooden chair at a wooden table. Life never leaves the tree regardless of what transformation it undergoes.

Yes, autumn finds the tree a bit more ridged. Its bark is rougher and the water rivers within it have slowed down. No longer will its life blood flow just beneath the surface; instead, it is retreating to a depth that will allow the nutrients to sustain the tree but make it durable against the cold that promises to come. The smell of the wood and fallen leaves is not one of rotting decay as one would encounter in a bog, marsh or swamp but a retreat of life that is simply blown by the wind. The fragrance is now mature, a rich seasoned wood odor that fills the senses with comfort and sense of security.

The branches are losing their flexibility and instead are becoming stalwarts of strength to sustain the cold to come. There is usually a lull in storms during this time so that it has opportunity to build defenses against the winter storms that will come. By the hour of the first snow fall the bark has turned to armor. It is ready to face the brutality of the winter gale keeping it’s precious lifeblood locked securely within. Branches no longer bend with the storms; instead, the tree groans against the onslaught. It’s creaking can be heard clearly as it buffets the bitter winds as you lay comfortably in your warm cozy bed made from one of it’s brothers…perhaps?

Twigs and even branches that could not hold on another moment bounce haphazardly atop your roof tapping upon your windows entreating you for respite. Nevertheless, you remain snuggled beneath piles of warm blankets awaiting the cessation of the howling winds. Once the storm has passed and you might think you would find disaster after the tempest …they remain, the trees, although battered, remain. You pull back your curtain revealing an ice laden window pane. Blowing upon it creates an oval birthed by the warmth of your breath. Your eyes are filled with the snow and ice laden landscape. The crown and glory of which is surely the grand trees holding millions upon millions of ice diamonds within their branches. God fashioned beauty created from chaos and a monument to his utter majesty and love.

There is silence. Silence so complete, so loud that it hurts your ears. The tree stands proud for it has withstood time upon time of life’s endless joys and heartaches, abundance and want, life anew and death replenished. It is a monument glistening as if from some ethereal plain in a majestic culmination of its existence. The trees have seen it, experienced it, known it and are certain of certainty. There is no tomorrow, there is only now and we must work as diligently in the today as we are not given tomorrow. The trees teach us much if we listen, if we see, if we pursue to know more beyond ourselves. They are a gift of knowledge and experience if we stop long enough to listen.
Of course, that only speaks to the tree itself and not to all the lives whose existence is dependent upon it’s survival. Some have learned to grow and change with the tree itself knowing that a symbiotic relationship with it is one that is the most beneficial to all. Others only take without giving and still others are only interested in destroying what they cannot understand or have for themselves. The saddest of all are those who are blind to the beauty, strength and majesty of these glorious gifts to creation. I am grateful for the trees and my ability to see beyond only me.

Falling Autumn


Spiraling faster and further
with each revolution.

The darkness below appeared endless
and black as pitch
sending terror throughout.

Days before were spent
enjoying the bright sunlight

An illusion of being stationary
is felt during a time
within the length of descent.

Abruptly, great force drives
me halfway into the ground.

The impact disorients and I
cannot tell if up is down
or down is up.

A speck, nearly too
small to see, plays the
beacon to my waning hope.

So terribly far away.
How can it be so far
from here to there?
How will I return?

Rustling, snorting, chirping,
strange noises from everywhere
and nowhere. Without illumination
silhouettes cannot be determined.

Life, there is life here.
Whether that is good or bad
remains to be learned.

Struggles to move away
from the strange and new sounds
prove hopeless. I am stuck.

Please, please, someone
anyone, help me!

“Child, you are exactly where
you need to be, just
trust me.”

Before another thought could
form, a huge weight pushed
me further into the cold earth.

Next time I opened my eyes,
I could tell time had gone by.
How much time? I cannot say.

I stretched toward the speck I
once spotted only to learn
I had grown taller and the speck
was closer than before.

Days and nights passed
in quick succession bringing
me ever closer to what once
I called a speck.

My time was not without
peril as this and that walked about
A few creatures stopping to take a
nibble here and there while others
only pulled upon my ear.

I was stepped on a time or two and
once the wind blew so fiercely
that I nearly broke in two.

But each year I traveled
closer yet to that beautiful
beckoning “speck”, where light was
abundant and darkness fled.

Finally, when next I
opened my eyes
the light was so bright
and full that the darkness
was a distant, long ago terror.

I had made it back above
the clouds where the sun shown
brightly for all to see
spreading its loving warmth
for you and me.

How did this happen?
How long had it been since
last I set eyes upon my friends?
Looking left and peering right,
I could not discern anything but
brilliant light.

I could hear mumbles here and
there. “Hello, is anyone there”?
I called in earnest.

“I am here, I have always been here.”
The familiar voice soothed.
“I was with you each and
every day. Watching, protecting,
teaching and loving.”

The strength of life coursed through
my body as I soaked in the Son’s rays.

“Father, may I ask, why
did I have to fall?” tentatively
I asked.

“It was your choice”, said He.

“You were curious about the
creatures below even though
I asked you not to go,” he stated.

“Father, I do not recall
anything but the fall,
the darkness,
the years slipping by
until finally reaching
your beautiful light. I saw nothing
as each day was night”, said I.

A warm breeze pushed
the clouds aside.

“Look. Look now and tell me
what you see,” he commanded.

Small specks scurried about
but I could not tell what
they were or where they were
running off too.

Then, as softly as a hummingbird’s
flight, I felt the warmth of pure
delight as a tiny speck far below
stopped to say hello.

I could not hear the words but
the feelings, I felt the intensity of the feelings
coursing through me toward
the Father, King of Kings.
Now, I understood.

Far, far below, a young man
leaned heavily against the
mighty sequoia and talked
to their creator.

Tears flowed silently
down his cheeks as he
stared at the tiny seed
nestled in his palm.

“Father, God, forgive me for my doubt.
You created this magnificent tree
from the wonder of this tiny seed.
How could I ever believe
you wouldn’t take care of me?
Thank you Jesus for choosing
to create me. I promise to do my
best to show others what you
have revealed to me, each
of us were created with purpose.
Yes…both me and this beautiful
old tree.”

Moonlight


by
Tina Blackledge
6-26-2014

Delicate pale blue blossoms
lift joining their siblings
weaving long strands
giving form
to the strong
summer breeze.

Delicate fragrance
tickles the nose
enticing all to
take notice

Birth of curiosity
of wonder
of awe.

Eyes drawn upward
met by the applause of the
trees dancing in the
wind.

Soft moss underfoot
cushions each step
toward the brook.

Moonlight kisses
the surface of the
clear water reflecting
the power held in
the stars.

Standing upon the edge
her shift piling around her feet.
Stepping into the water
reveals it deeper than
it first appeared.
Barely the water
lifts the breasts.
Cupping waterfalls over
head and shoulders.

Power infuses
water cleanses
Refreshed
Renewed.

Grace guides
her steps firmly upon
the bank

She spreads her shift out
upon the soft bed of moss
Taking rest upon her
back

Moonlight bathes her anew
as each droplet sparkles
in her hair, upon her lips
over her skin.

Her breath is visible in
the night air but
she feels no cold.

Soon her breathing
signals the rhythm of sleep
Stirring only slightly
as the stag standing
on the opposite bank
snorts loudly in
warning to all
who dare
approach.

He watches.
He protects.
He will defend
to his last breath.