The tail end of winter finds me seeking the promise of spring. So with the weather forecast calling for a balmy 48 degree high, I headed for the respite of the high desert to absorb the sun’s rays—and contemplate life under the boughs of a tree.
Just east of Bend, Oregon, I hiked among Western Juniper trees—which carpet about 8 million acres of semi-arid land in the Northwest. The pungent, woody fragrance of this tree calms me and conjures up scenes the Wild West and simpler times.
And the tree is a haven for bird life.
Ecologists christen the juniper tree a “microsite”—a small pocket of habitat with unique environmental conditions (i.e.temperature, sunlight, nutrients) tucked within a larger ecosystem. This is of key importance to birds.
In winter’s beak chilling cold, the Juniper provides a natural rest stop for birds—a regular old “Motel 6” for weary birds–with a snack on the branches and a protected bed in the boughs.
“During one frigid day, a single robin or Townsend’s solitaire may gulp down more than 200 berries. Juniper berries aren’t very tasty,” says Thomas Barnes a University of Kentucky extension professor.
Yet the birds don’t seem to mind. Watch the robin and a cedar waxwing dine in the branches of a juniper.
But you don’t have to fly and have feathers to find the Juniper beneficial. I also found solace under the Juniper tree.
The peace in this solitary stand of trees was palpable. A lone male bluebird perched atop a tree. The wind rustled through the branches stirring the scent of juniper and sage into nature’s perfume.
While sitting under the tree, I was reminded of Elijah, who during a time of severe distress and discouragement met with God under a tree. Sometimes life is like that. Other times we are blessed with moments of satisfied stillness.
Richard Foster, in his book, Sanctuary of the Soul, shares a story in which he walked in the woods seeking solace. As he prayed, he heard an “inward whisper, a deep speaking into the heart:”
If you will be with me you do not have to have all your desires satisfied. With me is ultimate and complete satisfaction. If you are genuinely with me you are in the best place possible.”
Satisfied or not, the key is to be with God.
That is the safe haven we can count on–no matter our circumstances. And for that, I am thankful.
Have you spent time under a tree recently? Take time today and talk with God.
And Isaac went out to mediate in the field at the eventide.” Genesis 24:63 KJV