Tag Archives: Tree

Wood and Flame

“Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.”― Henry Ford


Something is taking over the mountain!  Wood piles!  Piles of wood are popping up everywhere this time of year.  They line driveways and paths.  They are piled high against houses and sheds.  I see them growing under trees and in meadows.  Everywhere!  Like flowers blooming in Spring the landscape is blossoming into wood piles.  It is a harbinger of warm hearths and winter fires burning the chill away on the Winter days ahead.


Wood and fire – a cozy relationship unless you are the one being burned.  As the fire turns the log to ash we witness the final contribution of a life that began as just a small seed.  The tree-that-once-was is diminished to black dust.  The tree that weathered and changed with the seasons has sacrificed itself to the fire. Jack Gilbert, an American Poet of the last century says this about the fire and wood relationship: “We think the fire eats the wood.  We are wrong.  The wood reaches out to the flame.  The fire licks at what the wood harbors, and the wood gives itself away.”  Somewhere in what Jack says I hear a message of sacrificial giving.  It is as though in its final burning, the wood has achieved its sacred mission…to offer what it is made of in order for the fire to bring light and warmth in the midst of a dark and cold world.


Beyond this mountain that I call home there is a dark, chilly world waiting for my contribution – and yours.  Am I  willing to share the talents and treasures that lie within me, collected from seasons of growth and change?  Am I willing to give myself away to that Holy Spirit Transforming Fire of God?  And what warmth and light could this sacrifice of mine bring to another?

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Proverbs 26:20 says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out…”  In the midst of all these piles of wood waiting to be consumed in the cold of winter, may I be mindful of the sacred transforming generosity that resides within each of us.  May I, too, reach out to that Holy Flame to offer the gifts God has harbored in me.
If you would like to more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our web site at gracestonesanctuary.com

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Whittled Into Holiness

“…they climbed their ladders to whittle and prune the trees into holiness”
― Catherynne M. Valente, In the Cities of Coin and Spice

The Old Unpruned Apple Tree

Were you praying for me this morning?  Yep!  I knew you were because I had one of God’s angels show up at my door this morning…even before my coffee was done brewing.  Well, maybe not an actual angel, but he did carry a Godly message when he introduced himself as the guy from the Tree Care Service.  I looked at his card, then back at him.  Did he know that this morning I had been reading John 15:2?  “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Actually I have been thinking a lot about pruning lately.  Looking over our property I noticed several dead trees and branches.  The pear tree that produced so much for us was looking thick and bushy.  And I wondered about the old apple tree at the edge of the lawn.  It had produced nothing except one misshapen tiny green apple.  The branches were twisted and void of many leaves.  It looked hopelessly lost sitting in an untended weed patch.  I had it marked as “ready for the firewood pile”, that is until the Tree Care Guy showed up today looking for work.

After checking credentials and asking key questions we took a walk discussing the trees in question.  Stopping at the old apple tree I told him my plans to add it to the firewood pile.  He asked me why I didn’t want to keep it and I told him it looked pretty hopeless to me…fruitless dead wood struggling to just stay standing.  And then he said (and this is the God message part), “It is not hopeless.  You just can’t see what’s living and green inside.”  He told me that by pruning it back and fertilizing it a bit we should have a blooming apple tree in a couple of years.


I heard God’s message loud and clear.  God can see beyond my weary dead branches, past what feels dead and hopeless to me.  He knows there is life hidden inside that can still produce fruit.  AND He knows when and how to prune my particular heart and mind and life.

I read that pruning is an essential gardening skill and that when it is done correctly, it will enable new and healthy growth as well as an abundance of crop producing flowers.  As I look out my window now at my properly pruned apple tree I try to envision buds and blossoms, fruit and pie.  That’s hard to do today.  My Tree Care Guy has whittled and pruned back the dead and dying to the green and living wood, leaving not much more than a bare trunk with hardly a branch for the birds.  But because of his knowledge and skill he told me confidently it would bear good and abundant fruit again.


So, I thank God for my unexpected visitor this morning and the reminder that God is the Great Gardener who sees the potential within us and knows what needs to be pruned away in order to be fruit-bearers for His Kingdom.  I am ready to be “whittled into holiness”.

I knew in my heart that I wanted to know the garden intimately, to know all the flowers in each season, to be there from spring through autumn, digging, pruning, planting, feeding, rejoicing.”  -Elizabeth Murray

If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com

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God’s First Temples

Day 153 June 2, 2014
New Beginnings

The groves were God’s first temples. -William Cullen Bryant

Baby Anjou Pear Ripening

Baby Anjou Pear Ripening

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life…When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult… Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. …Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. …Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”  ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. -Welsh Proverb

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands


Kiss the Earth Gently

Day 44 February 13, 2014
Love Creation

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ―Lewis Carroll


“If we learn to love the earth, we will find labyrinths, gardens, fountains and precious jewels! A whole new world will open itself to us. We will discover what it means to be truly alive.” -St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) 

“Love all God’s creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If thou love each thing thou wilt perceive the mystery of God in all; and when once thou perceive this, thou wilt thenceforward grow every day to a fuller understanding of it: until thou come at last to love the whole world with a love that will then be all-embracing and universal.”―Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1879   

About the love of creation that St. Francis of Assisi demonstrated in his life:  “When the brothers were out cutting wood, he would forbid them to cut down the whole tree so that it might grow up again. He also ordered the gardeners not to dig up the edges of the gardens so that wild flowers and green grasses could grow and glorify the Father of all things…. He picked up worms so they would not be trampled on and had honey and wine set out for the bees in the winter season. He called by the name of brother all animals…”  Loren Wilkinson, Earthkeeping

Offerings of Encouragement

Day 307  November 5, 2013

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” ― Chad Sugg


God created the perfect Autumn day – I only took the photo.

“Create something based on the shapes found in a plant in your immediate vicinity.”  from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” ― Kahlil Gibran

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers….In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there… Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. 
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.  They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”   ― Hermann Hesse

“But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”  ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Rooted in Love

Day 294  October 23, 2013

“I’m planting a tree to teach me to gather strength from my deepest roots.” ― Andrea Koehle Jones, The Wish Trees

Rooted and Grounded in Love

Rooted and Grounded in Love

“Make something that is normally portable into something that isn’t anymore (or at least seems that way).”  from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”  -Ephesians 3:16,16 NRSV

“A tree stands strong not by its fruits or branches, but by the depth of its roots.”   ― Anthony Liccione

“Don’t forget who you are and where you come from.” ― F Scott Fitzgerald

Crystal Tree of Life

Day 221  August 10, 2013

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but violence takes lives away.  -Proverbs 11:30

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“Use a tree (or trees) as your only material or inspiration today.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”  ― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“In the morning light, I remembered how much I loved the sound of wind through the trees. I laid back and closed my eyes, and I was comforted by the sound of a million tiny leaves dancing on a summer morning.”― Patrick Carman, The Tenth City

Anything is Possible

Day 73  March 14, 2013

“Work with the gravel, sand, or rocks available near your home.” -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin


This rock is a special place to me.  A while back I spent a weekend on it…really!  This rock is on top of a hill that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  I had “gone to the mountain” to rest and renew and to reconnect with God for a few days.  I needed to get “unstuck” and out of a rut.  After climbing the hill I searched for a place to set up camp and was drawn to two boulders sitting next to each other.  1530   Years of weather had carved out the perfect indentations to climb up and the smooth cool surface made a welcoming place to sit and spread out my journals, Scriptures, and other supplies.  I could stand up on my rock and view the valley below and the trees surrounding me gave cool shelter from the August sun.  Not long after getting settled in this special place I noticed this tree.  It wasn’t so much that it was different than the others in the woods, but that it was growing out of the rock!  There was no soil, only a bit of dead leaves and pine needles.  The trunk was seven or eight inches in circumference.  It’s height stretched up about forty feet and its leafy branches were filled with healthy bright green leaves. 

That tree growing out a rock gave me a lot to think about over the few days I spent there.  I wondered how it got it’s start.  How did it root in such a hostile environment?  How deep must it’s roots be in order to reach to the soil for enough nourishment to be so healthy?  What had made the conditions so perfect that it could grow in such an unlikely place? And how could the little sprouting tree connected to it possible keep growing?

 I read scriptures about rocks giving oil and water.  I read in the Old Testament about the crags of the rocks being hiding places for man, birds, and beasts.  And I thought about the Mision of Jesus Christ and how overwhelming and impossible it seems to be at times.  I journaled about the times the way had seemed unclear, but God had provided all that was needed for restoration and growth just as he had provided this space in the rock for the tree. 

In the end I had few answers about the tree in the rock, but my faith had been strengthened and I left there with greater belief  in God’s ability to provide in ways I couldn’t imagine.  I knew He alone could provide the oil and water needed  to grow Disciples in my community. 

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.  So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him….  Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank.  -Numbers 20:8,9,11 

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  -Psalm 18:2  NRS


Love Actions

Day 35  -February 4, 2013

“Let us love, not just in word or speech, but in truth and action.”  -1 John 3:18


“Create instructions that others can use to make something and then have someone try it out.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  -Howard Thurman

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  -Anne Frank

The HOPE Tree

Day 25 -January 25, 2013

“Lord save us all from a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.”  -Mark Twain

Tree of Hope

Tree of Hope


A Cup of Hope
I made this cup
from a piece of wood from a tree in my back yard
cut down some time ago.

“Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness…” -2 Corinthians 3:12

“Work with nature.  Go to your yard or nearby park and collect materials to work with.” -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

The Springfield Community of Christ church building sits near a beautiful lake.  There is a footpath that goes all the way around it and sometimes I go to this “back yard” to walk, to think, to meditate and talk with God.  There, I have a special place…a tree of hope.  Someone, a long time ago inscribed the word “Hope” into the bark of the tree and others have come along and added their own inscriptions of various sorts.  But it is that one word that can keep me going, like a pat on the back, a healing touch, or a cool drink of water along the way.  People need that at times to remind them that in the midst of cold sorrow, buried in the deepest despair there is a hope waiting to blossom forth.

“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.”  -Job14:7-9

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”  -Romans 12:12