New designs from a tree’s former fullness
A huge white oak tree fell to the ground one day last week. Well, it wasn’t really a huge white oak tree. It was Huge. Not really. It was HUGE!
It was old. Well, it was OLD. (Maybe the tree greeted Mother Theodore and her companions as they explored their forest home.)
The day the tree fell, the sun shone; the sky was bright blue and cloudless. Even a slight breeze would have been welcome to stir the hot and humid air; but the day was completely still.
The mighty white oak simply fell to the ground.
How could that happen? It had been standing tall the day before. Large, beautiful deep green leaves still graced its branches. Yet it simply fell.
Not so simply as it turns out. The giant white oak was completely hollow inside. Completely. The tree could no longer use the elements of sun, water and soil to produce its life-giving energy. It just couldn’t anymore. It was empty.
Empty but not useless. One of the sisters came out to find pieces of wood suitable for making wooden flutes. A local woodcarver arrived to find wood to create hand-hewn bowls and crosses and angels – all sorts of wooden objects. Workers will saw the tree into pieces and then make woodchips to use in landscaping on the campus. In all these ways and more, the mighty white oak continues its life and usefulness.
Usefulness isn’t everything though. The towering tree had delighted generations of people with its tall and upright trunk, thick branches and lush growth.
But on its final day, the day of its collapse, the white oak burst forth with a new kind of beauty. In one final explosion of its energy, the huge and old oak tree created delightful wooden sculptures of its own. In one final explosion of its energy, the tree used its emptiness to fashion designs from its former fullness.
A modern day GIVING TREE true story!
Beautiful tribute to the tree’s continued usefulness!
I’m sure this tree is deeply honored by your commentary and by those who will give it new life. MTG would love this sensitivity of her Daughters (and sons) of the Forest!
Thank you Denise, for this beautiful reflection. I am always in awe at these gentle giants.
A beautifully written obit for a tree that may have sheltered the original sisters. Mother Theodore is no doubt giving it a rest now. Well done good and faithful servant.
It was a “Giving Tree” just as Mother Theodore was a giving woman!
What a wonderful tribute to a white oak tree! Thanks Denise for taking the time to write this beautiful reflection.
Losing a tree like this is sad, but your insights regarding its new life are of course so in keeping with what Jesus taught us. Absolutely love the way you started it!
May we have a new appreciation of these beautiful HUGE OLD trees for we cannot predict how long they will continue standing.
Always looked at the tree when driving to mass on Sunday. Will miss seeing it and thinking what has happened during its life
I add my heartfelt thanks, Denise, for your awe-inspiring reflection!
Dear Sister Denise, Could the stump of the tree be carved into some sort of natural artwork that would reflect the stability of the Sisters of Providence in their various ministries? A good project for St. Mary’s of the Woods College Art students? I’m just thinking out of the box, as I’m so appreciative of the sound education I received from the SPs at OLPH, Clarksville, so many years ago. The stump reminds me of one of many “standards of living and life” that I learned from you SPs! Just an Idea!
What a lovely idea, David! I’ll pass it on to our sister artist in residence and to the art faculty at SMWC. Thanks for sharing your out of the box thinking! And we’ll both praise Providence for the SPs who gave you a good, solid foundation for learning. Sister Denise