March 30th saw steady winds approaching 20 mph all throughout the day, with gusts up into the 50s. Overnight, a front passed through in which even stronger winds were generated. As the 31st dawned, the results were all too evident.
My wife and I had a yard littered with broken limbs and twigs. In the woods behind our house, a medium-sized cedar tree was completely uprooted and laid out prone across the ground. And we got off lite compared to our neighbors.
As I went out for my morning walk, I happened upon tree after tree that had been uprooted and blown down. More than a few had taken down pasture fences in the process. A farmer who lives nearby reported to me that he was awakened at 3am by a phone call from the authorities reporting that his fences were down and his cows were out. Needless to say, he had had one tiresome night.
And that was not all he faced. One of his smaller barns had been completely blown over. And his large hay barn had suffered the loss of about twenty percent of its tin roof. His busy night was about to be followed by an even busier day.
As I walked on, I began to notice a pattern. Most of the trees that had been blown over were cedars. As I studied them, I came to the conclusion that their root structure seemed to be shallow and spread out. Without a single tap root, or a large root system, they were far more susceptible to the high winds.
Add to that the fact that cedars do not lose their foliage in the fall. Unlike the hardwoods, which are still without leaves at this point in the spring, cedar trees are evergreens; and their needle-like leaves fill their limbs year round. For this reason, the winds, which easily pass through the hardwoods, invariably meet resistance from the fullness of the cedar’s branches. And the result is inevitable.
At the same time, not every cedar met with the same outcome. Many cedars bore up just fine under the stress. Why then did some cedars fare well and some not? The answer lies in their location.
Those cedars huddled together in groups tended to stand up just fine. Those growing within a collection of other trees, even if non-cedars, also did well. Simply put: the trees that suffered the most were the ones that proudly stood alone. In nearly every case where a tree was damaged, it was a grand old tree proudly standing alone all by itself.
Is there a lesson in this all of this for you and me? I believe there is. John Donne famously said that no man is an island unto himself. And he was right. God said of Adam in the Garden of Eve that it was not good for man to be alone. We were made to live in community; and it is clearly in our best interest to do so.
Let’s face it. Life is full of storms. And even in between them, we face the winds of adversity most every day. As we do, we are far better served if we do so in the company of, and with the support of, other individuals.
In the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 4, verses 9-12, we read:
9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
In the days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years to come, I will likely still be able to see the tree stumps left behind by the sever winds of March, 2022. Hopefully, whenever I do, I will continue to be reminded of the importance of surrounding myself with others, especially those of the household of faith, who can strengthen and support me, even as I do the same for them.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/niv/ecclesiastes/4.htm.