As I write these words, our nation pauses to celebrate Veterans Day in grateful recognition of the thousands upon thousands of men and women who have protected our country’s unique freedoms. One of them, a sergeant by the name of Joyce Kilmer, fought during World War I with the 165th Infantry far from home in the European theatre. He was killed in action near Ourcy, France on July 30, 1918, at the age of 32. Though his loved ones had to suffer the heartbreak of his loss as many do, Sergeant Kilmer left these words which have remained with us for nearly a century –
I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.
Our world couldn’t exist without trees. They cleanse the air and provide oxygen for us to breathe. They hold the soil against erosion and offer habitat for innumerable birds and other small wildlife. They shade the earth from the scorching heat of the Summer, and paint the landscape with breathtaking beauty in the Fall.
Like all living things, they are born to live, they grow, and one day die. Poplars grow twice as fast as oaks, but live only half as long. Even in death, like a poet’s words, trees contribute great value to our lives.
They provide fuel for our fireplaces to heat our homes in Winter. Most of our houses, even if they show a handsome suit of brick, are framed up with wood. The paper you are holding right now came from a gracious tree. The pen I am using was fashioned out of wood. The old rocking chair in my study that I am sitting in right now was once a tree more than a century ago. The bookshelves nearby and all the volumes they hold that have been my teaching companions through the years, all these came from trees. Around the world over, experts tell us that there are more than 23,000 varieties of trees that are an integral part of our planet’s cyclical ecological system.
Wood is a substance unlike any other in our world. It can be split, chopped, rived, and cut. It can be turned, planed, joined, shaped and sanded. It can be burned as fuel, converted into other useful products, or finished with a protective coating intended to last for hundreds of years. Without wood, our music would be limited to the sound of brass.
Once, 2000 years ago, a tree was felled halfway around the world. Its wood was crafted into an old rugged cross upon which the Prince of Glory died. Only God could have anticipated the particular purpose of that tree.
A year ago, when the mission acquired its new facility in Gibsonia and began to re-purpose that property for a new chapter of God’s work, my daughter Emily took note of the beautiful trees there that had lived, while others died, and while others still emerged beneath tall boughs as tiny saplings. In the Autumn she saw how the majestic oaks dropped thousands of acorns upon the ground, each one holding the potential of becoming, one day in due time, another tall oak tree in the forest of our lives.
Nobody but God can make a tree.
It’s been another amazing year at the mission, dear friend! Thank you for all you’ve done in providing the blessings that God used to make all of this possible! We used thousands of 2×4’s and sheets of plywood, swung a lot of hammers, and drove a lot of nails in helping many of God’s needy children during the course of 2016. Much of what was accomplished came from trees that God purposed for such work.
When a little tree is born, perhaps only God can be aware of this new life and all the potential worth that lies within that delicate, fragile structure.
Centuries ago, an unknown carpenter from a far away land took wood from a fallen tree and crafted, with adze, mallet and chisel, a primitive trough. It was built to hold hay for the feeding of animals, but it became the first cradle of a new-born swaddled child whose angel-announced name was Jesus. He would grow up to become Savior of the world.
Soon you may be joining with countless people around the world in decorating your home for the upcoming holiday season. Perhaps a different kind of tree, a Christmas tree, may adorn your own dwelling place. Upon its branches, an unknowable variety of ornaments may be hung, each reflecting its own particular meaningfulness.
Enclosed within this newsletter mailing is our little gift to you. This year, a simple ornament made of wood and stamped with the impression of an acorn. As you hang this little handmade ornament upon your tree, may you be inspired to prayerfully reflect upon the worth of your own God-held life, how you like a tiny acorn, have grown into the great person you are and are yet capable of becoming still!
Only God can fully plumb the depths of potential that lie within an acorn. Only God can know the fullest potential of what yet lies within you and me. Only God can grow greatness.
While all the world slept, a little boy was born to a world aching for God’s love. On that silent night, He was born to “raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth!” His unique life blessed this world forever, and because of that, so can we if we so choose.
Thank you, dear Hosanna friend, for who you are and for all the good you’ve done. May God’s love surround you throughout the Christmas season and always.
-Donn Ed, Founder & Executive Director of Hosanna Industries