"Look at that miracle!" my friend said to me on a walk through the park. I looked around and could see nothing out of the ordinary.
"Which miracle are you speaking about?" I asked him.
"That tree, this one, and all of those over there," he replied.
"Oh, yes, you’re right. They are miracles." He then went on to share his extensive knowledge about trees. It was much more than I ever wanted to know.
"To grow a pound of wood, a tree uses 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide and gives off 1.07 pounds of oxygen. About one-third of the United States is covered by forests. That's 747 million acres of forest land!" he said proudly.
"Since when do you know so much about tree?" I asked, smiling.
"Just from walking in the forest," he said smiling. "My dad always took the family to the state parks. I learned most of all I know from attending programs there. But I do find them miraculous, don’t you?"
"I can appreciate all those facts you shared with me, but I believe there is an even greater miracle here," I said.
"What's that?" he asked.
"A tree still stands," I replied.
"I don't get it."
"Think about the life of an average tree. Imagine for a moment all that it has been through. Storms, hail, winds strong enough to knock it over, heat waves, flooding, dry, parched summers, insects, and people to name a few. But a tree still stands."
He paused for a moment then added, "The single, oldest living thing on earth is a tree, a 4,700 year old bristlecone pine tree in Nevada. It was growing when the Egyptians built the pyramids."
"And yet humans, who were created far superior, often crumble under the weight of everyday stress,” I replied. “Stress often times self inflicted. We have the ability to move away from danger. We have the intelligence to face a problem and solve it, and yet we often don't have enough sense to come out of the rain," I added with a smile.
Just then a young child came running into the park. "Mommy, lift me up! Please?" she begged.
Bending down to pick up the child, the mother turned toward where we were sitting. "It is her favorite place to be," she said.
We both nodded, smiling. Then, following just below the nearest branches, she said to the child, "Now you need not go far. Heaven isn't that far away."
"I remember, Mommy," the young girl said. I loved that thought so much I had to ask her about it. I stood up and walked to where she was standing.
"I loved that idea," I said. "That you need not go far. Heaven isn't that far away."
"Oh, that," she said, then hesitated a moment before continuing. "Her grandpa died last year. They always came here to this park and in particular to this tree."
She shifted back and forth nervously for a moment. "My father knew he was dying so he laid the foundation for his passing by talking to her about it. He always told her that he was going to heaven. She wanted to know where that was."
She stopped. I stood there patiently waiting for her to continue. I realized how difficult it was for her to speak about this.
"He would lift her up into this tree and say, ‘You need not go far. Heaven isn't that far away.’ Then he'd say, ‘Can you see it?’ My daughter would struggle looking around and finally say, ‘Yes, Pop Pop, I can!’"
"Looking up at her he would reply, ‘So can I.’"
I shared my sympathy with her and went back over to my friend.
"What did she say?" he asked.
"She explained why trees last so long," I said.
"She did? Why?"
Choked up with emotion, I said, "A tree...still stands...so we can get a better view of heaven."