Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dad and the Acacia Tree

Where I grew up in rural Northern California, the 4 seasons were not sharply defined like they are here in the Ozarks. Most of the trees were evergreens, predominately redwoods, which didn't have obvious seasonal changes; our seasons were defined more subtly. Summer was squealing with shock as we dipped into the frigid Smith River, and riding Larry Johnson's donkey, Joe. In the evenings, after dinner, we'd play softball with friends from the neighborhood, disbanding reluctantly at dusk when we could scarcely see home plate. Fall would begin with a familiar knot in the pit of my stomach at the loss of freedom; then I'd settle into the routine of math competitions and science projects and history class with the handsome Mr. Vernon. But there was always something magical about spring.

Spring was riding my bike to the beach down Moorehead Road, past the fields of cows and the handmade sign, For Sale - Red Wriggler Fishworms; it was the hum of bees and the fragrance of wildflowers on the wind, and feeling that, in spite of getting a C in art class, things were all right with the world.

In my world, spring was also defined by the acacia tree. My family lived in the parsonage behind the only church in town. In the front yard of the church was a massive acacia tree. It was a perfect tree for climbing, its huge limbs reaching so low that all but the very youngest of us could manage to scramble up and perch there after church. The limbs were covered with tiny holes, which at the time, I thought was characteristic of acacia trees, but have since realized was the work of woodpeckers. This may have indicated something about the health of the tree. Whatever its condition, it always managed to put on a grand display in the spring when its tiny blossoms, like miniature yellow tennis balls, covered the tree, and garnered the attention of everyone in town. 

My father, besides being the pastor, also acted as groundskeeper, and when he determined the tree was no longer safe, without any notice, he cut it down, an act that managed to anger a good part of the congregation and the entire community. Dad was never too concerned about public opinion. He may have seemed impulsive at times, but he had probably been thinking about that tree for a long time, and he didn't want to get into a big discussion about it or have a committee formed to study the implications of such an action, and he certainly didn't want to see any children get hurt.

One way or another, people managed to get over the loss, and nobody could stay mad at Dad for long. He was just too fun to be around. His laughter would fill a room like the aroma of mom's Sunday pot roast.

I've decided, after all these years, that besides keeping the church kids safe, my father did us all a favor by cutting that old acacia tree down. He reminded us that nothing here on earth, not even things of exquisite beauty, are permanent. Centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah said it best:

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.

Isaiah 40:7, 8

In a world of falling blossoms, 
it's good to know that the God who endures is the One who loves us deeply, who sent His only Son so we can live.

And this is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life,
and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:11

First published on March 20, 2011

Linking with Saturday's Critters


Sharon K said...

I would like to have met your dad. :)

Either you have improved in your artistic skills over the years, or your teacher did not know your creativeness is far above a 'C'. :) Thanks for sharing all the loveliness inside you. We all appreciate it!

Lisa Gordon said...

What a beautiful post, Connie, and surely something we should all be mindful of.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

Maria Jestice said...

Reminds me so much of my childhood, except the tree we climbed in the front church lawn was a cedar and its small holes were made by a beetle. It too was eventually cut down. I remember some softball but more often we played kickball. It was a horse instead of a donkey, and rather than ride a bike to the beach, we rode bikes through the woods on trails that we'd made where there were even jumps to hurdle.
Your art work is beautiful and deserves an A now.
Well written and great analogy on what is important and forever lasting. The Word.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Connie, your Dad sounds like a great man. I love the shot of you on the donkey. Cute shot and a great post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

carol l mckenna said...

Great post about your Dad and love the shot of you on the Donkey ~ adorable!

Happy Weekend to you ~ ^_^

Chandra@GreenComotion said...

Thanks for sharing your photo and story.
I really enjoyed both.
Have a Happy Weekend!
Peace :)

Sharon said...

What memories this post and photo bring back. I also remember that tree, but never had the courage to climb it, or maybe I was just to 'lady-like'...hah!
All those trees are cut down now...even the huge old Redwood trees in the parking lot.Sad to see them go, but as you reminded us, His Word stands forever.
I remember your Dad's laugh too, and when I picture him in my mind, he always has a big smile on his face, your Mom too.
Thanks for the walk down memory lane.