The unyielding tree

As I sit at my art table in my studio, I can see a tree across the street. By my calculations, I have viewed it roughly 14,000 times in the two decades we’ve lived here. And only today am I noticing its strangeness.

Here, in the dead of January, it holds all its leaves. This is not the typical winter tree of Anna Seward’s sonnet: “Where some yellow, lonely leaves we find, lingering and trembling on the naked spray.” This full body of lifeless foliage feels more an act of arboreal defiance, as if the branches had refused to let go.

How have I not seen that before?

As I point my camera to the tree, I focus on the seeds, still hanging, suspended, far from any soil they were destined for. And it brings to mind what I was reading in Isaiah 28 yesterday, where God says of his people,

In days to come Jacob will take root,
    Israel will bud and blossom
    and fill all the world with fruit.

Imagine if all the trees of the world suddenly refused to release their bounty, like this neighboring tree. It’s an absurd thought. Trees exist to spread seeds.

This is my desire: that my art and writing may be fruit, bringing both pleasure and kernels of truth to the world. There is hard work in the creating. But, as I have discovered, there is also effort in the letting go, the scattering, the sending forth.

Necessary effort, though. Art, like fruit, is meant to be enjoyed.

 

Send your wind, Lord, to spread the work of those who create in imitation of the Creator. Encourage your children who write, paint, sculpt, compose, draw – who commit their unique perspectives to forms that can be shared. Strengthen their will to work and to let go. Fill the world with their fruit, that it may delight to know the Maker of all delights.

 

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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