In the Shade of the Sycamore Tree

 I sit here, under the shade of a mighty sycamore tree, feeling small, feeling insignificant, and feeling a little helpless. I am reminded of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:4) and the children’s song we used to sing in Sunday school.

“Zacchaeus was a very little man,

and a very little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see.

And when the Savior passed that way

He looked up in the tree.

And said, 'Zacchaeus, you come down!

For I'm going to your house today!

For I'm going to your house today!'


Zacchaeus was a very little man,

But a happy man was he,

For he had seen the Lord that day

And a happy man was he;

And a very happy man was he.”

 (The tree below is called the Zacchaeus tree and is in the city of Jericho.) 

As I sit my thoughts leap about my head like bees buzzing around fresh flowers. Thinking of the things I have done that I did not wish to do, thinking of the things I should have done that I did not do, thinking of how I need to do more of this and less of that, thinking of how far I have come and yet how quickly I slip right back to where I once was.

 The world is so very noisy, our minds so cluttered, bombarded on a constant basis with the idea that if we just buy this one thing, we will be happy, if we just lose a few pounds all will be well, we listen to this song and that song and the televisions blare out their constant stream of garbage, and we have forgotten the sound of silence. I find myself longing for it and yet often unable to hear it, unable to catch those moments due to the constant clamors all about.

 So today, while feeling small, under the mighty sycamore tree, with my mind abuzz with a whole lot of meaningless regrets, wants and worries, the thought came into my head, clear as if spoken….”be still”….and I sat for a moment, just beholding the trees, my how large the leaves have grown since I last paused to look. I hear the birds singing, a bee buzzes around the flowers on a nearby bush, a yellow and black butterfly soars overhead. How majestic are Your works O Lord…..and the thoughts begin to leak back into my head, how I have failed Him time and time again….and again comes the “be still” and I sit and behold the wonders.

 I begin to pray…….and again comes the “be still”. Sometimes we just need to sit in silence and behold things.

 Even in the midst of chaos there are moments of silence, we simply need to turn off the clamor inside our heads and sit quietly and behold all that is around us.

  I got up, my break over, feeling refreshed and alive and marveling at the awesome grace of the Lord whom I serve. He is there in the little things. He is there when I fail, He is there when I triumph, His grace is sufficient, and all is His grace.

 

 I will leave you with a few quotes from one of my readings today, which spoke deeply to my soul. 

 

“You’re guilty but you’re not condemned.

Whatever you’re caught in, I make you free.

Whatever you’re accused of, I hand you keys.

Whatever you’re judged at, I give you release.”

 

“Grace isn’t a paltry thing but the most powerful thing — the very power of God — so don’t ever underestimate it:”

 

“God gives you grace and acceptance before you overcome your sin.

Because it’s His grace and acceptance that let you overcome your sin.

You don’t overcome your brokenness to have God’s love.

It’s God’s love that has you overcoming your brokenness.”

 

Only when you go to the Cross first & hear no condemnation,

can you go to the mirror and see deep transformation.

This is the only one road to take all the way home.”

 

Jesus doesn’t condemn you, 
Jesus is condemned for you.

Stones will be thrown, but Jesus takes them for you.

Spears will be hurled, but Jesus offers His side to shield you.

Battles will come, but Jesus will be nailed to the wall for you.

You don’t have to overcome your brokenness to have His love.

It’s His love that has you overcoming your brokenness.”

 

“This is the only one road to take all the way home.”

 (Quotes are from the blog of Ann Voskamp and can be read in context and fully at this link: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/05/how-to-handle-the-loud-critics-headlines-and-self-critic/)

Autumn ends the Singing

Today I picked up a leaf

From my favorite singing tree

Where I sat and prayed for Adam

And all his guys

Where I wept for the wounded

Where I wept for the dead

Where I sat and prayed for Josh

Where I sat and prayed for Mel

Where I wept for Mel

Where I weep for Adam

Many times I sat

Under its branches

And failed to hear its song

One day the Lord spoke

To my weary heart

Listen….be still….listen

Hear the trees sing

And then I heard it

It sang not a lament

but rather praise

The wind rustled through leaves

And it was if the tree rejoiced

Reveled

In exaltation

In praise to the King

To me it sang

“Peace, be still,

It will all be well

He lives

And because He lives

We can dance in the wind and the rain.”

   The beautiful tall Sycamore Tree, that I have so often sat under, has dropped all its leaves. It sits quiet now, and naked. I shall miss its singing as the wind blows through its branches.

 

On the night of this writing, as I was leaving work, I paused outside and looked up at the old tree. It was still. Only a few leaves clinging to its limbs. As I looked up a gentle breeze began to blow, and the limbs of the tree began to move, and the few leaves clinging began to rustle and make sound......one last song before spring........sleep now old friend, I will see you in the spring.

 

The Memory of Dreams, Standing on the Cusp……….And the Trees Sing On

 

  Walking about today with a sense of something, an unnamed something, as if I stand on the edge, on the cusp, waiting for something, anticipating something.  I feel somewhat unsettled, but at peace, if that even makes sense to you, I cannot find the words to describe the feeling I have. Is it anticipation, is it premonition, or did I simply eat something that has my system off a bit.

 I decided to take some time at lunch today, to just walk and enjoy nature, to get away from everything normal and into a different setting. So I journeyed to the Bosque for lunch and walked along the Rio Grande River and prayed and pondered the feelings that I cannot quite place.

I had a dream last night, one which I cannot remember all the details of. Someone came to see me, she was radiant and joyful, very childlike, and she was laughing, she told me not to worry, that everything was going to be okay, that it would be “more than okay”, there was more to the dream, but I cannot remember anything else no matter how hard I try…..just this feeling that there was more and that it is hidden from me. I have a strong sense of my father also, as if he too were in my dream, but I cannot recall any details, only a strong feeling about him, a strong memory of him, but an elusive one. Again I must apologize for I know these statements I am making are contradictory and yet they remain the only words I can find to describe what I feel.

 I do not often think much of dreams, for the most part mine are meaninglessness and quickly forgotten. I might recall something silly upon awaking and by the time I have had my coffee it is gone. There have been only a handful of times where I have dreamed and felt that the dream was important.  All of those dreams of which I felt were important are recalled in detail. I can still remember them. How strange that a wisp of a dream, with only one small part of all that transpired remembered, would seem to fit into that important category.

But what I do recall is “everything is going to be okay”, “more than okay” and her laughter.

So I walked along the Bosque thinking on these things, praying about them, and praying for those who are heavy on my heart. It was a beautiful time to be out, the sun was shining, the skies a vivid blue, the clouds a pure white, the trees all golden, the river peaceful, the mountains majestic. You simply could not ask for a more peaceful place. I stood amongst the giant cottonwoods, in their various stages of yellow gold and brown, they are such majestic trees. As I stood, eyes lifted to the heavens the wind began to gently blow, and low and behold, my ears opened up and I could hear the trees sing!

 Winter is coming, soon the cottonwoods will sleep, their leaves all fallen to the ground, they will slumber until spring, and yet they sing, their many leaves a melody as the wind twists through their branches. Perhaps the feeling of standing on the edge of something is nothing more than a change of seasons, perhaps nothing more than helping me to see that the seasons have already changed for my family, things are not like they were yesterday, they will never be as they were yesterday, but tomorrow is a new day, a new season, and there is nothing to fear.

When the Trees Sing


When the trees sing,
It doesn't really matter
If you know the song,
Or if you know the words,
Or even if you know the tune.
What really matters is knowing
That the trees are singing at all.


May 6, 1998© Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek

Click the link below and listen Carefully and tell me if you too hear the trees singing?

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-Xn6_HTufE

Singing Trees.......

 Today, as I was sitting outside on my break, attempting to write something, some blessing received, I asked the Lord, to open my eyes, my ears, my heart to His blessings…for I was empty..
 Then quite suddenly the thought of singing trees entered my mind, and I began to notice the wind, and the trees, and I began to hear the rustling of the leaves as the trees bent back and forth in the wind….their leaves rustling together…like song….and I could hear them sing.

 The sycamore trees were loud and joyful, their leaves making a mighty rustling sound, their many limbs whipping back and forth in time with the wind…nearby the pines sang, their voices low, almost overpowered by the sycamore…until you stood close to them, they more stoic and reserved, but still singing….and the Japanese maple, dancing gracefully, its song but a whisper in the wind…

How blessed I am, what blessing…to hear the trees sing!

 Later, after penning these words in my journal, I in curiosity decided to do an internet search for trees singing. And I found this poem and this painting....…..How delightful!


When the Trees Sing


When the trees sing,
It doesn't really matter
If you know the song,
Or if you know the words,
Or even if you know the tune.
What really matters is knowing
That the trees are singing at all.


May 6, 1998© Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek