The Old Oak Tree

Life may be fragile in that it can be snuffed out in the blink of an eye, but in other ways it is incredibly tenacious and strong.

Take the oak tree.  On a recent trip I stopped briefly on a hill in (of all places) Pleasant Hill. 🙂  I wanted to refresh myself and indulge in a bit of my favorite pastime: taking photos of nature. It was a stunningly beautiful day, the grass on Dinosaur Hill a shimmering emerald green, a few stately oak trees crowned the top and smaller scrub oaks dotted the downward slopes.


As I approached these small, but tough and scruffy looking trees, I noticed first the olive hued rounded clumps of mistletoe.  A little closer and I could also see that these trees were riddled with small swollen galls.  These are formed by a wasp laying it’s eggs and injecting the plant with chemicals that induce it to form a protective and nutrient rich home for the young larvae. This can lead to damage to the circulatory system in addition to a drain on the trees food resources.


I gave in to the temptation to stand under a large clump of mistletoe; however, aside from a few couples enjoying a nice afternoon stroll and a rather bohemian-looking young lady leaning against a stone at the top of the hill reading a book, I was alone. Alas, no late Christmas smo for me.  I have often wondered why a questionably-attractive, poisonous, parasitic plant was chosen to encourage a couple to embrace and kiss.  I recently gave in to curiosity and discovered, as many of our current traditions, this one originated with the Celtic Druids and the Greeks, and yes, it had to do with life and fertility.  Ironically, it was also believed to protect from poison.

While it was not my day to gain a kiss, I did see a remarkable thing.  These trees, with both an abundance of mistletoe and wasp galls sapping their life’s blood, were already showing Spring’s sweet promise, and here it was only the last day of January.  There were buds opening to display fresh new growth here and there all over the tree.  The unseasonably warm weather and earlier winter rains had made everything green and awoken the tree sap.

I was reminded of my own life which has not always been perfectly ideal.  I have had experiences with assault, with cancer, with loss.  There are scars and some still fresh wounds…however, I am not defeated.  God has given me that same resilience he gave these trees.  I will always bounce back when the rays of His love and acceptance shine down on me and His grace showers me with unexpected and undeserved glimpses of beauty and kindness.

I can’t help but burst forth with new life again in celebration of such a God.  I am in awe.


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