Sunday, March 17, 2024

#77 / A Mighty Oak

The website where I found the picture above identifies the oak tree it commemorates as "Nature's Greatest Survivor." I have been thinking about oak trees quite a bit! 

Why is that? Well, this is partly due to the fact that I see oak trees not unlike the one pictured above as I walk through Arana Gulch - which I do quite frequently. Additionally, that Holly Near song I wrote about on January 7th has stuck with me. I started that January 7th blog posting with this verse of her song:
I am open and I am willing
To be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change

Near's song ends with the following, which is where she references "a mighty oak."

Give me a mighty oak to hold my confusion
Give me a desert to hold my fears
Give me a sunset to hold my wonder
Give me an ocean to hold my tears

Even more than Near's song, though, and even more than my actual communion with the oak trees I encounter on my walks, I have been thinking about oak trees because a wonderful reference to oak trees suddenly appeared during my recent birthday celebration. My last birthday, you may remember, if you have been "singing along" with my daily blog postings, was one of those "big" ones. 

My daughter, in a perfect response to this "big birthday," denoting a daunting eighty years of life, discovered a poem about oak trees, and read it to me before I blew out the candles. The author of the poem was a singer, whom some have said was a link between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. I had never heard of him. Click this link if you'd like to see what Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr. was doing as a popular singer. The poem, below, is what has got me thinking about oak trees. 

You don't have to be eighty to appreciate the truth of what this poem tells us: 

Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day.

It stole the Oak Tree’s leaves away.

Then snapped its boughs

and pulled its bark

until the Oak was tired and stark.

But still the Oak Tree held its ground

while other trees fell all around.

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

How can you still be standing Oak?”

The Oak Tree said, I know that you

can break each branch of mine in two,

carry every leaf away,

shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see

they are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

of just how much I could endure.

But now I’ve found with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.

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