Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Moment of Hope

Hope drifted gently on the wind on a sunny Anchorage summer day recently. Hope in this case was encapsulated in millions of cottony seeds filling the air and sky from thousands of cottonwood trees. I sat suddenly awed by the meaning embedded in that commonplace annual event.

The tiny seeds of the cottonwood are surrounded by feathery material. They almost float. With a little dry warmth that breaks open their natal seed pod they burst into the wind carrying the hopes of the cottonwood tribe.

I doubt that trees have a soul, but could they be intelligent? They are certainly aware -- trees can alter their growth and turn their leaves to the sun. Could it be that there is something akin to a very slow neural network in the intricate array of moisture and nutrient pathways within plants?

Are trees capable of praising the LORD? The prophet David thought so:
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.
Linda and I once arrived on the scene of a foaling minutes after a young colt was born. The mare was exhausted, but the geldings were beside themselves with excitement, even having had nothing to do with the conception of the tiny horse now bathed in early April sunlight.

Are cottonwood trees excited in their own treeish way about the hope that floats away from them as their seeds are released on the wind? Are they filled with joy and peace that they have accomplished an important part of their purpose?

It is tempting to think that we are like cottonwoods, full of joy...and hope....and fulfilled purpose as children come into the world. And it is true that children is part of the purpose of mankind. But if we put our hope in children, or parents, or spouses or friends or institutions or things, we will be disappointed. They fail. Like the seeds of the cottonwood, some take root and grow, but others fail in various ways.

The seeds of the humble cottonwood are a lesson in hope. But we are created by God at the very pinnacle of creation, and while we may delight and even hope in children, family and friends, there is for us a hope that will not fail. The apostle Paul put it this way: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can entrust our hope in Christ, because we know he cares for us.

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