18 August 2019
On the Willows ~ The Willow Tree
Greetings Dear Reader,
“On the Willows there...”
When I think of willow trees, I think of the two that grew by the Flint River where an old broken mill lay in repose after its demise. I had a few adventures there with my Grandfather. You may read about one of them in Sheetrock On the Road. It was one of his favorite fishing holes and perfect for swimming.
When we were waiting for trout and bream to realize that they were there to be caught he would speculate about the willow trees. He explained that they were called weeping willows because of the way the rain seemed to be tears as it flowed down their leaves and branches. We were caught in a summer storm once and took cover that proved quite adequate under one of them.
I could see the tears flowing off of the branches and perhaps for the first time associated sorrow with the sacrifice of Jesus for our reclamation. My Grandfather explained how the willow was used for many things in the Middle East during the captivity in Babylon. Its wood is strong but also pliable. It can be made into furniture and fiber. He told me of buildings, baskets, and boats he had seen made of willow.
Then he told me of the passage in the Psalms and how the people would take shelter from the sun and rain under the willow. He called it God’s umbrella. He taught how the tree is useful for shade, that it filters water for the stream, and that its roots produce shelter for fish. He helped me imagine people held captive resting briefly from the sun.
The willow tree is a beautiful creation and as we ponder this song, we may see the contrast of beauty and sorrow that fills those who are separated to what is vital to us all. There is a willow tree nearby where I go to pray for my children. It is along the river where my Sons were baptized. It is a place of joy and sorrow for me. It also brings to mind another Psalm.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law. day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither; whatever they do prospers.
If I am to follow Christ well, I must understand the willow before I can understand the sorrow. I must join the things that hinder my following and I must remember that I am not at home. Perhaps, Dear Reader, we can rest under the willow for a bit and sort out the earworm of this song if we keep trying. For now, the lesson of its shelter and beauty are a comfort to me that I will gladly share with you. It is enough for this moment.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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