September 2013

On Camping, Streams and Trees

On holiday in southern France this year we stayed in a (normally) quiet and smallish camping ground. It had a small river running down one border and plenty of trees around to shade us from the hot sun. Our tent was placed on a bank overlooking this stream. After coming out from a rather long English winter, we enjoyed the temperatures of well over 30 degrees but without the shade of the trees we would have struggled with our tent being in the direct sun.

Some of the trees around the stream tended to go up high so that your neck strained in looking up and other trees tended to be somewhat shorter and far broader. It was these ‘broader’ trees, with the branches spreading out from the trunk, that gave the most shade for the longest time in the hot afternoon sun and it was under one of these trees we pitched our tent.

In the cool of the morning, just after the sun poked over the hills I would struggle out of my sleeping bag, throw on some clothes and boil up some water. I would then sit in a canvas chair slowly sipping my coffee and look at the stream and the sky and the trees. Slowly, the campsite would come to life but I would sit quietly as the sun warmed up the day and burned off the dew.

The bible talks a fair bit about trees. There are Fig trees, Cedar trees, Palm trees and Olive trees. There are trees that provide shade and allow birds to nest in them. There are trees that need pruning and other trees that clap their hands for joy. There are trees that give fruit and those that don’t and are going to be cut down.

I was able to reflect on some of these biblical images over my early morning coffee. Part of my refection was wondering which of these trees is most like me. If I had to choose a tree image, what would be the best representation of me? Am I a shade giver? Do I need some pruning? How much fruit am I able to produce? Am I tall and steady and a way point for people to get their bearing and their directions?

Perhaps the next time you are looking out your window, or walking through Hockley Woods you could pause as I have been privileged to do; to wonder what kind of tree you are, and just as importantly, to wonder what kind of tree God is trying to grow you into.

Then perhaps ‘all the trees of the field will clap their hands’.


September 2013