The neighbors are up this weekend and their fire wafts the eighth of a mile from their chimney to this porch. It’s twilight and the sun is retreating and the onset of night sends its milky blue haze over the leafless trees, and somewhere off in the distance is the gentle hum of a motor…soft and almost indiscernable. The clouds cover all the sky…except for a thick band across the mountaintops that is peachy…no, purpley…now it’s almost gone.
This is a magic moment, a holy one.
My husband is driving home and my daughter is cleaning her room and my boy is curled up on my bed with a slight fever. It’s just me out here on this porch marveling at the thick band of sunset that dances on the mountaintops.
I’m struck again at the beauty of the empty trees — trees that bear no leaves, no evidence of their fruitfulness. Just twisted trunks and spindly limbs intertwining in a stunning silhouette against a milky blue sky. As I sit and listen to the distant hum and watch the sun fade, the stillness of the emptiness is achingly beautiful.
I only see these mountaintops in the winter — when the leaves have fallen into soft piles at my feet. I only see these mountaintops and this thick band of sunset when the limbs stop trying to hang onto that which needs to fall. And through the twisted and spindly silhouette, I see majesty and beauty and am in awe.
The ashes at my feet have been replaced with a crown of beauty on the mountaintops — bigger and grander than the leaves the trees themselves bore the rest of the year.
This stillness — here on this porch, watching this sunset through these silhouettes — this stillness is deafening. Not the silence, but the stillness. There is no breeze, no wind. No leaves raining down like snow as it has most other days. Just tall, stoic, empty and bare trees that almost seem to be afraid to breathe for fear that something else will be taken from them…they feel poured out.
I think we’re the trees, yet we’re trying to be the mountaintops. I think we try to be majestic and beautiful and awe-inspiring for God, when we’re really supposed to be twisted and spindly and empty…so that through us others can see. I think we mourn the falling of our own leaves and fruit — but yet when they’re gone, it allows God to be seen through our silhouette. We’re evidence of creation, but we wave our leaves and obstruct the view of the Creator Himself.
I think we’re the trees.
Winter creeps in and whisks everything off limbs and we feel poured out. We feel poured out and empty and we hold our breath for fear that something else will be taken from us. We stubbornly grasp at single leaves that remain on our spindly limbs, unwilling to let the gentle breeze of the Spirit blow it off so new growth will soon come.
We try to be mountaintops; I don’t want to be a mountaintop anymore.
This stillness is deafening. The stillness of stopping and grabbing The Moment that’s been extended out to you unexpectedly — the one that crops up when your daughter is cleaning her room and your boy is curled up on your bed with a slight fever. The stillness of seeing the beauty in the bare, seeing through the bare and off into the distance.
Because when you stop to listen in the stillness, God’s presence is so thick you can’t hear anything but majesty and beauty and awe.
It is a magic moment, a holy one.
We are the trees.