A Survivor Tree

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

As a child, I attended Christian School for a couple of years. It was at that time I was asked to memorize my first verse. The place we started was the book of Psalm. I remember being asked to memorize Psalm 1:1-3 and I remembered mostly it was about a tree. A tree that had been firmly planted by a stream of water, which bears fruit, and leaves that never wither. In everything, the tree does it prospers.

There are about 55 verses in the Bible about trees. Most of them talk about the strength and peace that comes from being a tree of life. That in being a tree of life we bear good fruit. Our fruit is seen wherever we go, and everyone can see our fruit is good. Those who meditate day and night in the law of the Lord are free from withered leaves and bad fruit.

A Survivor Tree

In recent years trees have been a symbol of hope and survival. I began to relate to trees from a young age, as I learned about their importance in the Bible. However, it wasn’t until I heard them called survivor trees that it really touched my heart.

A couple of the most famous survivor trees in America are about two horrible tragedies that took place out of hatred and fear. The first being Oklahoma City Survivor Tree.

According to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum website, this tree is an American Elm, which stood firm during one of the worst attacks America has ever seen. It states this tree once provided shade in the downtown parking lot, and now it means much more. Folks from all over journey to see this tree, and be reminded that even in the worst of times something beautiful survives.

The second being the National September 11 Memorial, to honor the survival of another tree. Here stands a Callery pear tree after enduring the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. The tree was found at Ground Zero with a lot of damage but still standing. The tree was safely removed and put into the hands of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The tree was cared for and then returned to the memorial site in 2010.

Aren’t we all survivor trees? When I travel along the roadways I look for those trees, the ones that stand alone in a field or near a structure. I think of how many storms tried to knock them down, and how much the tree has seen.

I think we all should take time to appreciate survivor trees and to allow them to inspire us to enjoy the freedom so many have sacrificed for.

I feel like we can all be more like these symbols of hope. We can rise above tragedy, show compassion, be a shelter, and shower those suffering from peace.

My hope is you never look at a tree again thinking it is just a tree, but to embrace what poets, authors, and historians have for years. Trees are something we use for shelter and something we climb. However, they are also something that brings peace in tragedy and hope to the suffering.

Like one of my favorite poets said about his carefree youth, “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches,” Robert Frost.

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