Christian Articles Archive

Ode to the Tallest Redwood

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

This scripture and a redwood grove at San Mateo County Memorial Park, near Redwood Glen Baptist Camp, came together early on the morning of August 30, 1994, with this poem, read later that morning to a conference of churchplanters.

Eph 6:10-13 (NIV)
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."
An Ode to the Tallest Redwood
When St. Patrick and his brothers were proclaiming Jesus to the pagan kings of Ireland,
My roots began their journey, threading their way into the gritty soil along Pescadaro Creek.
My leaves peeked through the decaying litter of the redwood forest
And I began my climb toward the sky.
Oh, I've seen my troubles:
Fifteen hundred years of flames roaring up the canyon.
I've felt their crimson tongues lick at my bark until deep, bleeding wounds
left me in naked agony.
My lower branches are centuries gone, victim to a hundred raging devastations.
And yet I stand.
I once looked up at my elders and wondered if I would ever be so high, and grand, and majestic,
Yet one by one they would totter and fall with a whoosh and a crash.
Beetles and windstorms,
Fires and floods,
And yet I stand.
Wounded, yet I stand.
"Beautiful" would not describe me today, though perhaps "persistent."
Blackened scars bear mute witness to my history,
Deep gorges touch my very soul.
Scar tissue and burls flow down my base like hideous lava to cover my nakedness,
And yet I stand.
"Tallest Tree" says the placard at my base,
"Two hundred twenty-five feet" the board declares.
For even at my age I'm still creaking and swaying and stretching, and I've grown some feet since then.
Huckleberries and tanbark oaks flourish far below,
The great-grandchildren of my great-great grandchildren tickle my knees with their greenery,
And yet I stand.
Jays and jackrabbits,
Foxes and fieldmice dart about in my shade, because I stand.
Stand in spite.
Stand because.
Stand for the forest that needs me.
Stand to proclaim the glory of God.
Stand a score of feet higher than my nephews and nieces.
Stand to see what they cannot in their wooded blindness.
Stand to feel the fog bathe my face.
Stand to drink in the morning sun.
Stand to serve.

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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