New Perspectives: Towering Acquaintances by Rev. Heather McCarrel

It is our custom to walk the same path several times a week.  It is a 2.5 km trail that follows the river and twists and turns through a forest.  We have been walking this trail for many years; never tiring of the ever changing weather, landscape, flowers, shrubs and trees.

This trail has been a stay point in our lives.  First we walked it with our small children in a stroller or carried on our backs.  We have photos of them proudly holding their first salamander, snake or crayfish.  There is the ‘Raccoon Tree’ and the ‘Owl Tree’, both having been the resting places of their namesakes. There is the tree that lovers have carved their names into for over 60 years and the tree that grew out of a big rock.

As each of the children returned home from University they would join us for this evening stroll discussing future plans, hopes and dreams.  Now they return with their partners and we happily welcome them into our family routine.

One special stop on our evening stroll is a particular tree.  Nearing the end of the trail is a little pine tree that looks entirely out of place.  Somehow, the wind carried a tiny seed which managed to plant itself under tall deciduous trees.  With determination this seed dared to root, grow and stake claim to a small spot near the river.  We have been cheering him on ever since!  At first his tiny trunk was thin and bendable but now; due to strength gained from strong winds, heavy snow and from being trampled upon, he is strong.

Last winter we dug him out after a snow storm and were thrilled to find him reaching up to us! It was then, impressed by his tenacity and persistence we gave him a name; Percival.

Percival is a mighty fine name for such a small specimen of life.  Percival was one of King Arthur’s Knights at the Round Table.  Legend has it his courage and strength made him a hero; this little pine tree has risen to the heights of his name.

On Sunday evening we paid Percival a visit.  We were relieved to find him at his tallest and as I ran my hands along his soft needles I decided to snap a photo.  Someday I will share this photo with my grandchildren and be able to share the story of Percival’s humble beginnings.

I once asked members of a congregation if they could email me photos of their favorite trees.  It was amazing the photos I received.  One woman sent me five photos of the same tree spanning 3 generations; photos of weddings, birthdays, and family reunions all taken under this same tree.  Another woman sent me photos of a tree her son had planted on his first day of kindergarten and every first day of school they snapped a photo of him by his tree.  In the last photo he was in his graduation gown with the tree towering over him.  I also received photos of memorable Christmas trees and trees that held unique tree houses.  Each of these trees had their own stories to tell.

Trees are one of God’s greatest creations; a steadfast in all our lives. So, do you have a favourite tree?