Jan 3 2010

Smiling at the Trees

CUGA-Pinnacle-winter-hI recently came across a moving story in Rick Bass’ book, The Wild Marsh.  In the following passage Rick tells of the day his young daughter, Lowry, asked the question, “Where is God?”

 “The question catches me for half a step, maybe longer.  Everywhere, I answer.  Lowry considers this, looks around, then points to a huge cedar.  Is that tree him?  Yes.  Where’s his ear?  Well—he really doesn’t have ears.  I can see her considering an earless visage, and so I change tack and fall back on the familiar: Everywhere.  She peruses the woods more closely.  A tree has fallen across the trail and been sawed into pieces by the trail crew and shoved to one side.  Is that cut-down tree him?  Yes.  On the drive home, once we get to the gravel drive, I let Low sit in my lap and steer.  As she does so this time, I notice that she keeps looking out her window and flashing her pretty smile, and holding it for several seconds.  When I ask her what she’s doing, she says, Smiling at the trees.

I think Rick’s daughter is on to something here.  If God is everywhere—if He is made manifest in all that He has made—shouldn’t there be more smiles on our faces?  Isn’t that one way we might recognize and honor God’s presence? 

Because of my environmental views I have been called a “tree hugger.”  I don’t mind the label at all.  I do love nature and want us to do whatever we can to preserve and protect God’s Creation.  Still, I think I’d prefer to be known as a “tree smiler,” as someone who recognizes God’s presence in Creation and gratefully responds to His gift.  Furthermore, I want to be someone who helps others see God in His Creation so that they can smile at trees too.  In the year to come, I hope you find much to smile about.


(The image above was taken from the Pinnacle at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.)