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Because, I suppose, God would still have us call him good,
he has shone the light of his countenance upon us
(here in West Michigan, at least)
and blessed us with sunshine
these first February days.

In January the sun calmed, warmed, filled with hope.
But this sun is something different.
It energizes and aggravates.
It is a tease
a sign of things to come
but not yet here.
This sun laughs.

It is the light at the end of the tunnel
the end of things
and the beginning
which we glimpse
now and again
but cannot attain
stymied
stuck in this viral winter.

This sun
teasing and laughing
pulls me out of doors
in desperation
to the woods
to the lake
to walk
march
plod
for I must move towards something
anything
anything but the sitting
and waiting
all the nothing I’ve been doing.

In the woods I want to run.
I want to holler and yell.
I want to dance like a mad woman
release this energy
this need to move, to do.

I am full of the wanting of doing.
I want to drive east
and plaster my passport
against the plexiglass of the booth at the border
and tell whoever I must that I will go home
visas and restrictions be damned.

I want to ring the bells of the steeple
and call the people to worship,
and tell them to sit at the table
and dance in the aisles
and hug
and cry
and laugh
and sing.

I want to take the Christmas boughs
and start a blaze in the backyard
and throw a party for my friends
at which we dance around the fire
howling at the moon for
joy of being together
and we burn in the fire
every one of our masks.

I want to never again ask
what if
how might
should we
can I
and rip apart each layer of thought
we must travel through in the act of doing
anything.

I am full of the wanting of doing.
But the things I want to do I do not do.
And the things I do not want to do
(which are, of themselves, an absence)
these I keep on doing.

I do not holler and yell.
I do not dance like a madwoman.
I walk
march
plod
feet finding the best path
where the snow is packed down
by the hundreds who have
walked
marched
plodded
for their own want of doing.

~

There are, in the woods,
the smallest of beech trees.
Their branches are wide and low,
and upon these branches cling
leaves – dead and brown.
I say cling, but I am convinced
it is the tree holding onto them,
not the other way around-
holding them until it is time
for something new.

And if you stumble upon these trees
while walking
marching
plodding
at just the right time,
you will see the sun
fall upon them and make them
glisten.

A woman asked me once
what God’s grace was like.
I would tell her now,
it is the tree that holds its leaves in winter,
and the light that shimmers
those leaves as copper.



Laura de Jong

Laura de Jong serves as pastor of Second Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Michigan.

13 Comments

  • Daniel J Meeter says:

    I love it, the tree holding on to its leaves, that graceful silver-smooth-barked tree. And so much more in this, while were are plodding.

  • mstair says:

    “it is the tree that holds its leaves in winter,
    and the light that shimmers
    those leaves as copper.”

    love the ending
    I have one those trees outside my sunroom window; I shall now watch it with a new perspective …
    change is coming…

  • Jan Zuidema says:

    Strange that I have always been drawn to those beech trees in the woods that refuse to give up their leaves. I’ve always wondered why they, stubbornly, don’t drop those leaves, while believing that it was a small winter gift – the bold yellow against the winter white – now I can add their tree knowledge that the new life of spring will finally force those leaves to fall, giving way to life-giving green. Beautifully written!

  • John R Sr Kleinheksel says:

    Are we like the leaves that refuse to drop off the life-giving Tree?
    Am I patient with myself (and others) who want to cling to the old nature, only giving way to the new when it is unavoidable?
    And the New Creation is coming. It has come. It will come. That’s the Reality I trust.
    Thank you Laura on your gift to us this morning.

  • Beverly VanderMolen says:

    I too have been so revived by the sun these days and the trees that teach us. Thank you and thank God the sun is out another day today!

  • Jim Payton says:

    This was delightful—thank you for one of the most uplifting assessments I have encountered of the struggles and unstated hopes we carry in these strange times. Yes, yes, yes …

  • Ron says:

    Thank you for expressing so well some of that things I experienced on yesterday’s hike. After nearly a mile of uphill hiking, I concluded that the beech trees were applauding an old man’s efforts.

    The sun on the snow of Sleeping Bear was a blessing that matched that of having just had my second vaccine. Thanks be to God for all of it.

  • Jane DeGroot says:

    Beautiful. In every direction. Thank you!

  • Carol Van Klompenburg says:

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Gary VanHouten says:

    It’s called marcescence. The tendency of some trees, especially young trees, to hang on to their leaves throughout the winter. Nobody knows exactly why. Studies show that browsers, like deer, tend to more readily eat the exposed young succulent buds of tree species that have shed their leaves in the fall. Makes sense. The retained leaves could be a survival trick to hide the buds from the deer.
    Anyway, I know I’ve always loved the young beeches in winter, so they’re a survival trick for me too.
    What a wonderful poem/meditation.

    • Daniel J Meeter says:

      And it’s characteristic of trees in the oak / beech family anyway, right? All the pin oaks in my yard still hold many of their dead leaves. Maples and locusts almost never.

  • Judie Zoerhof says:

    Thank you, Pastor Laura for putting my feelings in such a beautiful format, the restrained energy, the “Layer of thought we must travel through”. Amen Sister, Thank you!

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