There but for the Grace of God…

It was a shaft of early morning sunlight that caught my eye, just coming from the east and touching the edges of a small wood near our home. It gently rested on a young maple sapling, perhaps a year and a half old, spindly trunk, gangly branches, over sized leaves stretching for warmth and light. I watched the sapling for a time. A light breeze rustled those leaves, shifting the shadows formed from the sun’s illumination. It was at the very end of the woods, the liminal space where the trees give way to moss, then green grass and dandelions, and eventually concrete and blacktop.

Had the sapling’s seed fallen deeper into the woods it would not have had a chance. Surrounded by the other trees, unable to access the sun’s light, it might have grown for a time. But then what? There in the middle of the wood, surrounded by giant oaks and fellow maples, spruce and pine, wrestling with thick undergrowth. What then? Eventually that tiny sapling would have given way, the darkness of the forest floor swallowing it up, or perhaps the deep fall leaves smothering it as the cold fall nights set in.

But that was not to be its fate. Instead, for whatever reason, in whatever small but miraculous way, its seed had come to rest in just the right place. Between a stone and a low plant, close enough to the soil to send its first tendrils downward searching for nourishment and home and connection. Where it would feel the touch of the sun each morning, the moisture of the rain, the refreshing wind of the little valley. And there it could grow, stretching away from the other trees, the ancient giants brooding in the deeper forest, wondering perhaps what a young sapling was doing taking such a chance.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “There but for the Grace of God…

  1. FM

    We have a red maple outside our window that my wife checks first thing in the morning. As you so aptly describe, the magic of the sun and wind and spreading branches become a treasure of continuing time.

  2. Dad

    #1 – I didn’t know you took a botany course at Brandeis!

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