I’m sixty five years old. I have an iPhone. When I see an interesting image, I stop and park my car. I take a little walk, getting in a few more steps for my otherwise sedentary life. The viewpoint then becomes important, otherwise I’m just taking snapshots. The place has “called me,” as we say, for I’ve driven past hundreds of trees on my way home, but this one tree stands by itself, calling for a visitor to commune with it. As I clambered down into the stream bed, I noticed the water flow was weak due to our lack of rain. The large black basalt outflow rocks were quite dry, so I sat down for a lower vantage point. This was good, but I decided to lie down, to get one last view.
Did I mention that I was wearing bright red pedal pushers and an equally bright yellow blouse? The sight of a gray haired gal taking photos while lying down in the midst of a stream did get celebrated by a number of the passing vehicles. I waved back, it’s Arkansas. Folks don’t often do out of the ordinary here.
When I was an art student, I had the privilege to study art history for a summer in Italy. Two days a week our professors took us on bus trips to see art in situ and three days we worked in the studios over the town square of Cortona, our home base. In a historically rich and artistically wealthy nation, the Italians don’t bat an eye when they see an artist sketching or painting in front of a monument, sculpture, or landscape. I even found that putting my tool box with coins and paper money down near my feet would bring additional gifts of appreciation from passers by.
In fact, the Italians are downright spoiled by the beauty that surrounds them. (There’s a Borromini church! Uh? Oh, so?!). We too are sated by that which surrounds us, but it isn’t a reverence for the cultural treasures of antiquity. The Italians have an art history that extends back through pre Etruscan times (1000 BC). Our history begins in 1620 at Plymouth Rock. We are a people who would rather tear it down and build something new. When I see this tree standing strong, offering its branches and shade as a shelter to any who come near, I think of an old home or an old church that has protected and provided for generations of families that have come under its “roof.”
Just as I had no fear when I lay down in the middle of the stream, the tree has such deep roots that even when the stream itself drys up, it has a deeper source of water to tap. This is where most of us fall apart in our daily lives, our creative lives, and our spiritual lives. I speak as if these were three separate items, but in fact, each one is only a facet of a singular treasure. When our daily life is stressed, our creative and spiritual lives suffer. When our spiritual life is ignored, our creative and daily life withers. When we aren’t creating, we don’t feel alive spiritually or humanly.
We each need to find the deeper source of water, that will refresh our thirsty souls and spirits.
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.”
~~ Jeremiah 17:7-8