An Ordinary Tree
Many people I know ask me regularly about miracles. Many don't believe that they occur in our times. I find this very distressing. In my life, I see miracles on a regular basis, and give thanks to God for each and every one. Sometimes, I don't recognize them as they occur, but that's my fault. It isn't that the miracle did not occur, only that my heart wasn't open to the goodness of our Lord.
Here's an example:
The area where I live was blanketed in a heavy, wet snow in an unusual storm in early May last year. The snow broke branches, killed off some early flowers and generally made a mess of the neighborhood. But, it's weather, you just have to accept it. You can't really do anything about it.
As I surveyed the damage in my own back yard, I discovered that an elderly dogwood tree had split down the middle, killing the early buds and demolishing the tree. Now, I can hear you thinking, "It's only a tree, what's the big deal?" The big deal is that my parents carefully and lovingly selected these trees as mere saplings, only inches tall, in the early years of their marriage from the forests of the Adirondacks.
They had little money for entertainment or decorating in those days, and took these day trips to both entertain themselves and to decorate their brand new home. I even remember being taller than these saplings when I was a child. These dogwood trees had stood through hurricanes and snowstorms, droughts and floods for more than fifty years. My parents loved them to health and beauty. Most major life events of four generations were photographed in front of this tree; weddings, baptisms, birthdays and so forth.
Needless to say my parents and I,and even some neighbors, mourned the loss of this beautiful piece of nature. There's no replacing them. Full-grown flowering trees are enormously expensive, and often don't take well to transplantation. Every time my Mom looked out the living room window, she sighed. My Dad is the stoic type, but I could tell from the look on his face that he sorely missed his 'baby'. Much time was spent in discussion about how to replace this tree. No decision was made for quite some time. So we spent time looking at the empty space where so much beauty had been.
My Dad is an avid gardener. He's been using 'organic' techniques since long before they were popular. One of his pet projects is an apple tree he had grafted to grow five different varieties of apples. Apparently this type of thing is not long-lived. It's been years since it's had apples. Every other year or so, we spy a bud that grows into a flower and the beginning of an apple. Nothing great going on there. It's just green in the summer, providing shade. We don't pay much attention to it anymore. Dad just keeps pruning the dead branches so the grand- and great-grandchildren won't get hurt when they climb it.
At breakfast one morning we were again discussing the fate of the now-empty space where the dogwood had been. My Dad needed something from the garage, so he went out the back door and started yelling for Mom and I to come quickly. My first thought was that the poor man had fallen and was stuck. It's happened before. But apparently, when we weren't paying attention to the apple tree, it produced buds. Thousands of buds! The entire tree was covered with thousands and thousands of beautiful flowers!
It shouldn't have happened. There's no natural explanation for it. There are no buds on it this year.
For the next two weeks, my parents made it a point to spend time in the yard admiring the beauty of that apple tree. The often sat, hand in hand, marveling at it. I did too. My children took photos of it to bring to school. It was the main topic of conversation in our home until the very last bud fell from the tree. There were no apples to follow.
It is my belief and conviction that God gave these blooms as a special gift to console my parents, bring them comfort. There is so little in the lives of the elderly that is comforting, that I can see this only as a first class miracle
This year, my Mom is blind enough not to be able to see the space where the dogwood had been, and since my Dad spends so much time in the back yard, he has become accustomed to the space.
It was such a little thing. It was only a tree. Maybe the apple tree would have bloomed anyway.
I don't think so. I believe in miracles, not coincidences, and I humbly give thanks to the Lord for showing this very tangible miracle to my parents (and me).
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