Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dappled Oaks and Unfurling Ferns

The ancient oak tree in our front yard bears resurrection fern on each weathered limb. It also bears little resemblance to the stately one pictured above, and this photo reminds me our tree is living on borrowed time. But then, aren't we all?

On most days the fern is barely visible as dried, brown leaves crinkle along the lines of branches. But in the rain that we had today, the transformation begins. By morning, I predict the tendrils of fern, profuse and verdant, will cover the charcoal gray limbs like an icing of fresh green.

Resurrection fern, they call it: these daily reminders of the truth of God's order in the natural and, I suggest, spiritual world. And yet, how many days do I drive under that tree and never look up--never notice that it's still going on, day after day: new life out of dark places, life out of death?

The unfurling ferns remind me that God is in the process of restoring and redeeming all things.
We, too, can allow ourselves to be refreshed by the fresh springs of God's grace. We need the mist of a gentle rain to fall softly upon ourselves, filling in the parched places and reviving our hearts.

I know so many who ask for courage for a challenging life season ahead. Others need guidance for the next step. Still there are more seeking healing for broken relationships and physical disease. The trees of our lives can appear to be dying from the inside out, infected with blight common to the human condition.

But then the rain of grace falls.

We glimpse a frond unfurling...then another. Take heart!

God gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak. Isaiah 40:29

"From every dying tree trunk or rotting piece of wood, ferns and lichens grow."

From Seeking With All My Heart, p. 49, by Paula D'Arcy, whom I met last spring when she visited our church. I recommend her Gift of the Red Bird if you have not read her story of life and death.

Photo courtesy University of Florida site

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