Reflection Masthead
Issue 159 - Trees - September 2017
Those who meditate on God's word, says Psalm 1, 
"are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season."*
Since at least the time of the ancient Hebrews, trees have been powerful symbols 
for the human imagination. In this issue, we reflect on trees we have recently seen,
and they meanings they have for us.
* Psalter for Christian People, Liturgical Press, 1993.
The Trees that Made Me Gasp
It was the trees that made me gasp - two tall, towering pine trees in the front lawn of the Christian Church of Redmond, Oregon.
Last week, we attended the annual Howden family reunion in The Dalles, Oregon. Then we drove south to Madras, and visited my parents' graves. Continuing south to Redmond, I turned west on Evergreen Avenue, to drive between the two central institutions of my youth: the old Redmond High School (now Redmond City Hall), where I graduated in 1969, and the new church building, where I was ordained in 1974.  
I still think of it as the new church building, although it was built in the 1960s. I still think of it as the new church, because I remember the old church, the two-story, white, frame structure that stood right at the corner of 10th and Evergreen. I was 10 or 11 when we started attending that church, and like any young boy, knew every corner and cranny of that building, knew it better than most of the adult members.
The new church was built around the old church, in an inverted L shape. Only after the new
church was finished was the old church demolished, the daylight basement filled in, and the front lawn landscaped and planted where the old church stood. The front lawn, where two tall pines now tower above the new church.
That is what made me gasp - the size of those trees, and the realization that I am far older than they.
Where have the years gone, and what have I planted to leave behind? The "new" church in Redmond is the legacy of many people, but my father was chair of the building committee. It was the second of three church building committees that George Howden chaired, and three congregations still gather in those buildings, in Hermiston, Redmond, and Culver, Oregon.
Now that I am officially a senior citizen (by Social Security's standards, not just AARP's), I think ever more about what my legacy will be in the places I have lived, among the people I have known. And what will yours be, dear reader; what will your legacy be?

                                                                           --by Bill
Lamar Oaks
       When I saw the trees, my heart sank. In our little community of Gulf Coast bay homes, no longer obscured by sprawling live oak branches, the eerily blue sky was wide open, pouring sunlight on sparsely singled homes. The grand old oak trees stood ghostly still and silent, stripped of their leaves, standing like skeleton corpses raising splintered arms in distorted directions. A shock! - I've never seen those mighty trees bare. No longer did their lushly green arms hover over our home like an umbrellaed grandmother leading a child to school. On August 25, Hurricane Harvey passed through this area in Lamar, Texas, taking with it natural beauty, but not its dignity. Taking with it shingles and rooftops, but not its soul.
       The largest of five oak trees in the yard, the one in the front, was probably the oldest. It (before the storm) had covered the entire house. One limb, closest to the roof, stretched laterally the entire width of the house and over the neighbor's driveway. That limb was the one on which chasing squirrels entertained us during morning coffee on the front porch. It now is bare. The squirrels can have their way with it. The giant roots held tight while many others in the area were toppled. I think this tree might be a contemporary of the beloved Lamar Big Tree, thought to be over a 1000 years old and having survived Civil War bombardment and numerous hurricanes. It is known to be one of the largest live oak trees in the U.S.
       Trees. Trees came up in our discussion with our Benedictine Oblate Community last Sunday during our study of the Psalms led by Oblate Katherine Duck. From Psalm 1: "Happy are those...who take delight in the Lord. And on his word, they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in due season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper." To this discussion, Bill contributed his insight regarding this scripture: "And on yesterday's visit to the coast, I noticed tiny green buds showing along the oak limbs. A sign of new hope."
       Live oaks normally bear their leaves year round. Their leaves don't wither. In February, fully formed leaves fall from the trees immediately replaced by new thick shiny ones. Live oaks are found from Texas to Florida where their roots grow deep until they find water.
       May our roots sink deep in the way of the Lord, so that during chaos and destructive times, we too neither topple nor our leaves wither, but prosper in all that we do.
                                                               --by Jan

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Copyright (c) 2017 Soul Windows Ministries


Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries



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