The Spreading Oak Tree

Brendan and I were taking a walk in the forest of Budmerice Castle this morning. The castle grounds are open for the use of the people of the village for cycling or walks. Festivals are held in the grounds at different times of the year. Young and old gather to meet and view the stalls of food and crafts.

All was quiet this morning except for the tapping of a woodpecker. It is harvest time. Plum, Chestnut, Walnut, Apple, Oak trees are casting their fruit. It was drizzling with rain softening the ground after the dryness of summer. Every time we come to Slovakia the weather turns out to be suitable for us, just like back in Ireland, not too hot or cold with a bit of rain.

We came to a clearing in the forest. In the centre of the meadow was an oak tree which spread its branches on every side. It is a tall, healthy, strong and sturdy tree. It is the representation of something that God wants each one  of us to become.  Such a tree provides shade from the heat of summer for people, animals or birds. The birds build their nests in the branches to rear their young. I can imagine young children climbing up on it spreading boughs, or boys competing to get to the top branches. My grandchildren call this “Our climbing tree.” They spend many a summer’s afternoon there until they get tired.

Psalm 1 talks about a man who is like a tree. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalms 1:3).

The tree I saw today is healthy because it has been planted in a good area to receive the proper nourishment it needs to withstand the adverse conditions it may encounter during its life.  Such a tree is hundreds of years old.  It is in a broad meadow where it’s leaves get direct sunlight to nourish its leaves. It receives heavy falls of snow in the winter. The branches are able to withstand the weight of snow. This snow melts in the spring and waters the roots spread underground.  The roots go deep into the ground and extend as wide underground as the branches do overhead.

For a man to flourish like a tree he needs to let the water of life nourish his soul. This water is the Holy Spirit and the word of God is nourishment. We must remain close to God and Jesus Christ, the source of this nourishment in order to maintain a constant flow of the Holy Spirit day and night. “He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). And in 2 Corinthians 4:16 it says, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

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