Safely Secluded

In our study of trees this fall something struck me as I read these words from Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study:
"The tree is a rapid worker and achieves most of its growth and does most of its work by midsummer.  The autumn leaf which is so beautiful has completed its work.  The green starch-machinery or chlorophyll, the living protoplasm in the leaf cells, has been withdrawn and is safely secluded in the woody part of the tree. The autumn leaf which glows gold or red, has in it only the material which the tree can no longer use.  It is a mistake to believe that the frost causes the brilliant colors of autumn foliage; they are caused by the natural old age and death of the leaves--and where is there to be found old age and death more beautiful?"  
When reading this passage to the children our eyes couldn't help be go to the large elms and maples outside our window.  The tops of a distant tree burned bright yellow and it hit me that all this time I've never thought much of the "life" of the tree tucked "safely secluded" in the trunk.

The fall leaves outside on the ground have done their work, but the trees are still alive. Like redemption, this glimpse of spiritual renewal is never lost on me. Like a believer in waiting, or a saint in grief or feeling alone or discouraged, so too does that tree sit with a mysterious hope held deep within.  It may sway and bend in the harsh winter winds that come, but it is anchored and held firm.  There is a "now and not yet" glory that is abiding and true.  For the people of God, joy cometh now and it will come in its fullness on the Day.  Death may seem final here on earth, but these glimpses will surely turn into glory--and really--unlike the tree, nothing can cut us down, nothing can take our life, in Christ, away.  Amen.

November, by John Updike

The striped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
Departed leaves

The ground is hard
As hard as stone.
The year is old.
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
Displays a certain loveliness--

The beauty of
The bone. Tall God
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Give thanks: we do,
Each in his place
Around the table
During grace.


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