Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016 - 3 comments

All the Rings in My Trunk

When I was a kid, I always half-looked forward to, half-dreaded the annual tromp through the forest behind the camp I went to each summer.  Those days smelled of wet earth, moss and pine mingled with sunscreen and bug spray.  There would be upwards of sixty of us, laughing and singing campfire songs and generally trying to distract ourselves from our screaming calves as we ascended the seemingly never-ending “mountain”.  But by the time we’d reached our end goal - the Othello Railway Beds - all that dissipated in the excitement of cooling our feet in the icy Coquihalla and hunting for Sasquatch footprints and making our voices echo off the rocky ceilings of the abandoned train tunnels and scaring each other in their drippy, bat-infested darkness.  

When I grew up and became a counselor, the hike multiplied into a six-or-seven-times-a-summer event.  In July, I’d happily volunteer to “bring up the rear” and “cheer on the stragglers.”  Come August, my calves no longer complained and I looked forward to it every week.  

Whether as a kid on those “mandatory marches” or a teenager looking for ways to keep the kids motivated on the trail, my favourite thing about the hike was always counting the rings on the trunks of fallen trees.  (Once when my Mom and I were on that trail, we counted a trunk with over 400 rings!)  I was amazed how the path changed from one week to the next - how a big storm would bring a mammoth trunk for the campers to scale, and the next week the forestry guys (or some invisible and very zealous lumberjack?) would have sawed said obstacle into a trailside monument.  I was fascinated by the way the rings formed the tree’s autobiography - numbering the years of thriving and of want, laid out like a book for passersby to read.

A few weeks ago, I went away for a retreat on Bowen Island - a little pine-and-fir-clad rock rising out of the Pacific just off of Vancouver’s North Shore.  As I was out hiking, trail-running or sitting on the beach in the island’s various coves, I came across log after log that had been sliced crosswise to make way for a path or provide seating for sunset-watching.  And as I was examining one particularly mammoth tree’s life story, my Heavenly Daddy said to me, “I know every ring in your trunk.”

Well, didn’t that stop my heart in its tracks.

Over the course of the weekend, I let that word marinate in my soul.  I stopped to ponder every cut-through tree trunk and every time He took the revelation deeper.  He knows the story of each ring and the spaces that lie between them.  He knows the years when I was well-watered under life-giving rains, and the years when I nearly shriveled under the scorching sun.   He sees the ones when I grew a whole inch in one year and the ones when my “expansion” seemed imperceptible.  He’s been there through the years when I’ve soaked up joy through my roots by the bucketful and the ones where my trunk was watered solely by my own tears.  

He knows

He knows how I long to be a tall, sturdy oak - to provide shade and refuge for others, to bear fruit that will nourish the nations.  He’s invited me to sink my roots down deep into the soil of His heart, that His life would flow to the very tips of my branches.  He calls me “...a planting of His own, for the display of His splendour.”

My rings are His story.  Our story.

He knows.


"He’s been there through the years when I’ve soaked up joy through my roots by the bucketful and the ones where my trunk was watered solely by my own tears."

Good stuff.

Thanks for your blog!
I know the trail you talk about, our kid's know it better than I.
That's a good analogy, the rings of a tree trunk and our rings over our life time. I feel it is good that I can't see all the rings ahead or how many there will be but I hope I trust that God loves me and that Jesus is with me through the seasons!


Amen! I've just this week been reading about this same theme in your fellow 'Vancouverite' Mark Buchanan's book Spiritual Rhythms. (A great read.)
Is it something Canadian that Dad speaks to you through tree trunks?