He: “Are they blushing yet?”
Me: “Not quite, but I have my eye on them and I’ll let you know.”
Reaction: A look of mystification on the face of the unwitting eavesdropper. What were I and the elegant elderly gentleman discussing? It did sound a bit salacious.
I thought of that moment as I passed the apple orchards of the Hudson Valley and I remembered all the years that that Marble congregant asked me that same annual question. He had wanted to know how close we were to apple blossom time so he could take his wife for a ride to see God’s beauty. “Blushing” is the rising of the sap in the apple tree so that the bark literally becomes rose-colored. It is the prelude to buds and blossoms.
Then I caught a newscast about the recent flooding in Houston and I learned that much of it is due to the fact that every available patch of earth has been cemented or asphalted over and there is no earth left to absorb the rain. It can only rise and inundate streets and homes. What were the city planners thinking?
Our biblical ancestors long believed that the earth was a gift and always belonged to God. Humankind could only hold it in stewardship and would have to answer for their keeping of it. How much we need to reflect on that charge.
Arbor Day, once a classic holiday in our schools and a time for tree planting, has been replaced by Earth Day. I commend those who celebrated it by adding a tree to our earth. As you walk the streets of your city, congratulate those trees that manage to defy cars and bicycles and dogs and exhaust fumes, and still put forth their priceless leaves. I saluted the apple trees I saw this morning. They are in blossom once again.
“All the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isa. 55:12) And they do!