|March 7, 2019
By Tim Ehrhardt
1 Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
Read the full psalm.
Near my home is a small grove of oak trees. Every chance I get, I stroll through the little forest of majestic trees with their strong trunks, thick bark, and gnarled branches. I must confess that there are four particular trees that I talk to on a regular basis. I call them “Mama Oak,” “Papa Oak,” “Grandfather Oak,” and “Elmer” (“Young Oak”) because they stand together looking like a family. I speak to them for the primary reason that they are good listeners. I also speak to them because, as God’s creation, I have this intuition that they can actually hear me.
In his book The Hidden Life of Trees, veteran forester Peter Wohlleben has written a winsome and fascinating account of what he has learned about trees. His primary thesis is that trees are social—they communicate with and care for each other. Trees planted by streams of water are not a group of individual trees. Rather, through their extensive root system in the ground, they share vital nutrients with each other when one of them is sick; send something akin to electrical impulses with one another to warn of danger; and take ownership of helping the entire forest grow together in health and strength. And they are not in a hurry. Their slow growth is deliberate and careful, a testament to their resilience and longevity. Wohlleben describes this intricate care and communication system as “the wood-wide web.”
As we move through the season of Lent, we are not alone. We do not attempt to shed the old sinful nature by ourselves through sheer willpower. We assist one another. We depend upon the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. We embrace the slow, patient, and deliberate work of soul-craft as we anticipate meeting Jesus.