It was as if they had been reaching for one another forever. Like two young lovers separated by time and space, unable to fulfill their longings, until one day, after years and perhaps decades of yearning; they touch. They intertwine in a loving embrace never to be broken. They sigh in their contentment knowing full well that they will never part, not in this life time at least. As time slowly marches on, their love for one another never fades, but it does change with the years. From intense passion and voracious longing to quiet companionship and stalwart support, their love never becomes cracked and dry, it only cures and strengthens with time until one day they can tell no longer who is supporting whom. They have become one; equally reliant and equally supportive.
Now with their journey accomplished and the struggle behind them, they can rest; and so on their outstretched arms, surrounded by a love full of years, a lone mocking bird fills the night air with his song. The song is eerie in the night. The low country fog has risen and now filters the sound adding mystery and just a touch of otherworldliness to the melody. The ever-present Spanish moss shrouds the lovers with a covering of lace, the intimacy of which gives a visitor pause. This is a private, personal world, and to enter in seems almost profane; but with the dawn comes the admirers and the dreamers of days past and the evidence of God’s blessing on these magnificent creatures.
The golden light of dawn comes with the morning and with the light, the majesty of these venerable old trees[i] is made evident. As the sunlight filters through the age old branches and dapples the fallen leaves beneath, a sense of timeless peace fills the space. As the morning mists dance within the light, the foreboding of last night vanishes to be replaced by a welcoming, ageless calm; but it is in the storm where the true majesty of these old souls comes to the fore. As the lightning flashes above and the earth shakes to the sound of thunder beneath, these old trees remain at their post; never faltering, never cowering, forever challenging Mother Nature to do her worst while they do their best. Shaking their fists at the sky and standing their ground defiant, undefeated and unashamed.
For two hundred and seventy some odd years these same trees have stood sentry over the land. They have seen the birth of a nation. They have witnessed beneath their outstretched limbs the tragedy of that same nation at war with itself. They have felt the pain of brother against brother, of families torn asunder and have looked on in horror as human beings were bought and sold like cattle.
They have listened to the melody of children, slave and free, black and white playing beneath their sheltering limbs. They have heard the old men talk of times gone by and the young men speak of the future. They have reveled at the sound of hymns being sung and prayers being raised to their God. They have seen love and hate, joy and heartbreak, sorrow and rejoicing. They have seen it all.
I wonder what they think of us. In the course of eleven generations they have seen much: wars and rumors of wars; nations rising against nations, kingdoms against kingdoms.
Do they think us evil or good, a blessing or a curse? Does the good outweigh the bad? Does the Holy outweigh the evil? I pray it does, but to be honest there have been times when I have wondered.
There have been times when the evil in the world has pressed down on my soul; times when the darkness appears so pervasive that I fear there is no escaping; times when Satan appears for all the world to have won the day.
Then I am reminded of a young man, a man of peace and love; a man filled to overflowing with understanding and compassion, and I remember a world dead set against Him. I remember Him bloody, battered and bruised for my sake standing His ground defiant, undefeated and unashamed. From the very Cross He shakes His fist in Satan’s face declaring; “You do your worst, I will do my best.”
I remember my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rising up on Easter morning declaring “There is a better way, love trumps all!” Then it comes to my mind that I am His child, and I know then, that no matter how much the darkness threatens; the light will always win the day. No matter the storm, with Christ comes peace.
[i] The trees referenced in this story are the live oak trees lining the entrance of the Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. They were planted in 1743 by Major John Boone.