Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wood Hath Hope

Oak Stump has New Shoots of Life

Back in the 1970's, John Foley, S.J., of the St. Louis Jesuits, published a song called "Wood Hath Hope. " The goal of the St Louis Jesuits was to provide melodic worship music that was easy for people to sing. The chorus of this song goes like this:

Wood hath hope.
When it's cut, it grows green again,
 _and it's boughs sprout clean again.
Wood hath hope.
     (Wood Hath Hope Songbook, North American Liturgy Resources, 1978, p. 40)

The song speaks of the tree that's been cut down to a stump. It looks dead, but, like the tree above, it revives. New branches full of leaves, as you see coming from this oak stump here in Templeton, California, grow again. The tree may not have the same form as it had before, but it's still alive and growing. The growth of this tree continues, in spite of the barbed wire you can see cutting into it.

The second stanza of the song tells us that we humans are in a state of waiting for death to strip our souls and end our lives and that "mortal life's like a dried up river bed" and that we "sleep to rise no more."

Salinas River During the Dry Season in June
The the song writer introduces the thought that "if a man could rise again" and be taken by God to a loving land, people could have hope. That's what Jesus did. He rose from the dead after his crucifixion, conquering death forever.

Even the dry riverbed won't stay dry forever. God sends the rain to revive it. This is the same spot after a season of more rain than usual.

Same Tree You Saw Above at Same Spot After the Rains

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Will to Survive Seems Built into Fruit Trees

The Will to Survive Seems Built into Fruit Trees
When we moved onto this property, the former owner had planted an orchard. Unfortunately, we were traveling so much those first few years we had neglected it. Also, I was not a great fan of quince, so I never did much with the quince tree, even though it faithfully produced a great crop every year. The video shows how this tree appeared last May.

I didn't know what to do with all those lovely quince, either, every winter, except cook them with apples, raisins and cinnamon for a fruit compote, which was tasty. I should have had this Quintessentially Quince. It has many more recipe ideas for using quince.

The former owner also planted a plum tree that produces delicious green plums every year. Only in the past few years did I realize it was there, so it was also neglected. This is how it looked last spring.

The Will to Survive Seems Built into Fruit Trees

These blossoms matured into fruit in the summer, and then in the fall and winter the leaves died, but they didn't fall off. That is amazing, since you can see how twisted the base of the tree is, and how many suckers are growing on it. It seems every time we are about to cut them off it rains. So they didn't get cut off. That's on my "to do" list for the weekend -- if it doesn't rain again. This is how the tree appeared last week. In the first picture, taken from a distance, the tree appears almost dead, with all those brown leaves hanging from the limbs. 

The Will to Survive Seems Built into Fruit Trees
Damaged Plum Tree, © B. Radisavljevic

Now take a closer look. There are some new blossoms that show life is, indeed still present.

The Will to Survive Seems Built into Fruit Trees
Damaged Plum Tree Starting to Bloom,, © B. Radisavljevic

A very close look shows the blossoms that still haven't opened, as well as the ones that have. It looks like this tree will thrive this year if the rain doesn't come during pollination. Soon the bees will be all over this tree, as they have in years past. 
The Will to Survive Seems Built into Fruit Trees

It is God's nature to want every living thing he created to thrive and bear fruit, even when we haven't done all we can to help it along. These trees were watered once or twice during the entire dry summer and never got any nutritional supplements. They weren't sprayed or pruned. Yet they bore fruit. Their roots went deep into the soil for water and nutrients that God gave them. I could have given God a bit more help if I'd had more time, energy, and this book, The Holistic Orchard

Some neglected children can be like these trees. I remember when we met my son, who was four at the time. He had been neglected by his mother and his father was in jail. Finally his mother took him, along with his older sister, to the county and abandoned them there. In spite of a distinct lack of attention, his natural and God-given compassion, curiosity, and survival instincts helped him to survive and thrive until he came into our home through foster care, and stayed there through adoption. We did not neglect him. You can read his story here. 

If you have both fruit trees and children, if you must neglect one, it had better be the trees until the children reach an age when they can help tend the trees. That way you can nurture both at once as your children learn where fruit comes from and realize they are helping put food on the table. 

Your thoughts? 

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