"A Smoke Tree in Bloom"
- on a hot summer 's day -
I never ever heard of a “smoke tree” until I moved out into the desert, and now I see smoke trees every day of my life. In fact, smoke trees are among the most beautiful bushes the desert has to offer - exotic, almost pre-historic looking bush-like trees springing up almost everywhere you look along the desert floor.
These magnificent wilderness trees have their origin as tiny little specks of seeds that are washed out into the desert floor after a big rain up in the mountains. They take root in the rocky sand of the desert soil and then sprout up out of the bone-dry dirt; and then they wait until the hottest time of the year (when the temperatures are well into the triple digits) to go onto bloom.
In this mid-June season, when we are in the grip of the summer’s intense heat, it’s pretty much impossible to go outdoors in the afternoon; but in the early morning hours before it gets too scorching, the most beautiful sight of the year awaits me on the desert trails. The smoke trees are in bloom, regal, royal, blue-purple blossoms covering the trees all over the desert floor and along the trails - such a wonder to behold.
In this season where tiny specks of seeds rooted in bone dry soil have become astoundingly beautiful flowering bushes, the world of nature teaches me a vivid lesson about what one little speck of a seed can yield.
Jesus lived and preached in a desert, and he often talked about the wonder of tiny seeds that blossom under impossible circumstances:
With what can we compare the kingdom of God?
It is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds of the earth;
yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs,
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.
Such tender and wise advice about the significance of our own ordinary little lives, and the significance of each and every act of kindness that we might sow as we walk the journey of faith….Such an important statement about the resilience of love and how love can grow even under the most adverse circumstances.
A word of encouragement to a child, a kind gesture to a lonely neighbor, even a simple “thank you” to the waiter at lunch, the cashier at the market, or a small donation to the homeless man who sits on the street corner - all tiny little seeds of love scattered on the surface of life; and yet when love is planted, love grows in ways we can hardly even ask or imagine.
In fact when love takes root, you can’t kill it, no matter how hard you try.