Let the trees of the forest exult

"Let the trees of the forest exult before the Lord, for he comes." (Ps 96:12)

I love this Advent antiphon. It expresses the joy of creation and the confidence that God is with us. I can hear God's footsteps coming through the brush.

A mimosa tree behind my office has gone to seed. All summer, its prodigious pink flowers drew hummingbirds. Now its seed pods rattle in the wind like a heavy rain. We've picked up at least a dozen buckets of the pods from the ground -- better than conducting mimosa deforestation in the spring. It must be more than 10,000 seed pods, each containing a half-dozen seeds. I marvel at the profusion of nature, the generosity of God, even as I pluck the pods from garden beds.

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Chairman Mao Zedong said, "To plant a tree is to believe in the future." I've planted a lot of trees, mostly fruit trees -- apples, plums, cherries and my favorite, apricot. Fruit trees count the freezing nights and don't begin to run their sap until their own number is up, from 40 to 100 nights. For the really cold-weather fruits like cherries and plums, global warming is a problem. Some varieties will have to move further north, not an easy feat for a tree.

I fear for our future. It's not just the risk to agriculture that climate change brings, but our human propensity to war over scarce resources. Advent is a season of hope. So I'm trying to cultivate hopefulness by attending to trees.


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