Without a Vision, things die, Part One

I saw this on my Holiday Monday Drive in the country.


It is pretty striking. Tall and wide-spread. It has majesty and symmetry. But it is dead. The bark layer is coming off, and you know looking at it that soon branches will come off in the wind. I tried to get a shot of it with windmills in the background, because they create an interesting sameness (colour, size, with trunk and branches) but those pictures didn’t work out. At the base of this dead tree someone has graffiti-ed a request for no nails to be used on it, and for it not to be cut down. I need to go back and get a picture of that for sure, but those words did not gain significance until 12 hours later, as I reflected on the picture. More specifically, as I contemplated some of the pictures I have taken in Alberta so far (recall the abandoned farmhouse that used to be at the top of this page?) I recognnized I am drawn to dead and abandoned things. Here’s one I took this week as well:


The colour of the dead tree (and the abandoned wooden farm implement) has me thinking of the “parched bones” of Ezekiel’s vision, the “no nails” has me thinking of nails in wood, which brings me to nails in a cross. The “no cutting” got me thinking of God’s warnings that an axe will be taken to Israel at times, and it got me thinking about the stump of Jesse.

My preference in pictures — in fact I have quite a collection of these — is scenes of new growth coming out of old stumps. Like this:


And that got me wondering about why we readily abandon methods of creating a material harvest when we believe they are no longer serving our purposes, yet we cling to a lot of old methods to accomplish what we believe will be a spiritual harvest.


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