On the east side of my house, a huge oak tree stands sentinel. Hundreds of years old, it looks like the "Tree of Life" one sees portrayed in pictures and on t-shirts. It is strong, vast, perfect in shape- beautiful. I'm of the habit, in the warmer months, to read and study scripture on my deck in the morning. Usually, I'll be outside well before sunrise, coffee in hand, study materials on hand (my electronic pad).
The natural order and rhythms of life around the farm will start before first light. Slow chirping of the birds, far off crows from the rooster down the road, then nearer chirping and warbling, barking from the dogs and buzzing from the Hummingbirds as they fight aerial duels for the nectar set out by my wife. The entire cacophony rises and swells as the sun peeks over the horizon into the outstretched arms of the old oak. I don't know what kind of oak it is. I know it's not a Live Oak. It may be a Pin Oak. Somehow, to become too familiar with it, to delve into its genetics and dendrology, would be sort of impolite. Not that I would think it needed to be "asked". No, it is not the Creator, nor is it "The Mother". It is part of the Creation. Although it is majestic, solid, protective, growing, alive, it is nothing more than a tree- a plant.
What the old, oak tree does is protect me and my house from the first rays of the sun. Garish, harsh and brilliant, the sun jumps up in the morning and declares the world "Open for Business"! It's hard not to smile when the sun appears. Perhaps rooted in man's basic fear that it might, just maybe, not rise one day, I feel joy in the morning greeting the sun. But, I'm not totally ready for the blast of honesty and truth revealed by the sunlight. The old oak tempers that assault and lets me adjust gradually to the new day.
Eventually, the rooster crow fades, the birds calm, the dogs curl up and the sun rises above the oak. The day gets on with life. The oak grows one day stronger, bigger, more protective of me and my family- and closer to death. The old sentinel grows seemingly wiser, having seen another morning on the rise on the east side of my house.