Strength and Scars- Look, See, Pray

Staring at trees can get you funny looks. (Photographers get funny looks anyway). Most of Britain has been embattled by gales and floods as a regular weekly storm rolls across the vast Atlantic. Our trees have stood strong… but strength has limits. Some have been flung carelessly to the soggy ground which is too wet to support the roots.

Study a tree this weekend if you can.

Bark of a Giant in Sequoia National Park, California

The Sequoia National Park in California has the largest living tree, the “General Sherman.” To stand next to it is to be dwarfed into heartfelt insignificance.

This bark was photographed in the Park. Fascination with the shapes and texture meant I took several pictures, and this one can illustrate my thinking today.

Bark protects the tree, and also provides a home for insects. Birds and small mammals thrive in these forest monsters.

As strong as they are, trees suffer damage. Their strength is stunning- but they carry scars too. People can be like these trees: at times showing amazing strength and courage, but scarred by life.


This aged tree (right) was smashed by Storm Dennis. When the tree split and was ripped apart, the heart of the tree was rotten and hollow.

Trees persist. Unlike the pretty flowers, trees go on and on. Close attention always reveals that strength has faced down many a crisis. Damage has been done- but a strong tree survives.

The words of Psalm 1 have a timely message.

Psalm 1:1-6 (New Living Translation)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

Alaskan Pine Tree1

Photos (c) Richard Starling, 2017.

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