After all, if you or I stood outside naked for several months in sub-zero temperatures, we’d soon be turned into frosty statues.
Trees can’t burrow into the ground and hibernate like bears, and they can’t fly south like migratory birds. They’re fixed in place, at the mercy of the elements.
And yet they somehow survive through the cold depths of winter. Why don’t they turn to ice, since, like other living things, they’re made mostly of water?
Their trick is something called “hardening.”
In autumn, trees in cold climates undergo a change whereby water flows out of their cells. The concentrated sugars, proteins, and acids left behind act as a potent antifreeze. The water now in the spaces between the cells is so pure that ice crystals can’t form. This ultra-pure water can be cooled to -40 degrees F and still remain an ice-free liquid.
Pretty cool, isn’t it?
But what is it that triggers the hardening?
Ah, this is where we can learn a lesson from the trees.
If you’re out in the countryside, how can you tell if you’re near water?
You may be able to catch a glimpse of blue and know that you’re near a lake or pond, but sometimes trees may hide it from your view. What then?
You can use your other senses, plus search for indirect clues.
If you hear the sound of waves lapping on the shore or running water cascading over rocks, you know you’re close to water even if you can’t see it.
Hearing the call of the red-winged blackbird can be another clue, because this bird prefers habitats near water.
Your sense of smell might help you detect the presence of water, too. Wet earth gives off a distinctive scent, and the presence of algae in a lake also emits an odour that can be a tip-off.
If vegetation is blocking the sight of a pond or river, even that vegetation itself can be a clue for you. If you see lots of willow trees, you’re bound to be near water, as willows are naturally found there.
So there are things we can look for that indicate the presence of water, even if it’s hidden from our sight.
But what about when we’re trying to determine if God is near?
We might not be able to see Him directly in physical form, but are there still indications that our Heavenly Father is close by?
We seem to have difficulty being still these days, don’t we?
For many of us, life happens at warp speed. We’re always on the go, and have little downtime to pause and reflect on things.
But with all our constant motion, are we missing out on something?
Recently, I visited a park with a pond large enough to almost be a small lake. A slight breeze left ripples on the water, disturbing the reflection of the trees in the distance. The image on the water’s surface was wavy and impressionistic, not a true representation of the landscape nearby.
I then walked to a different part of the park where a river flowed lazily into the pond. The water was running slowly, and because it was sheltered from the breeze in this area, it was very still. The trees here were perfectly reflected in the water, giving a mirror image of their true forms.
I guess that to get the best reflection in water, stillness is the key.
Perhaps the spiritual lesson here is that if our lives are too frantic, it’s hard for us to reflect Christ.
For those of you who live near a large body of water, or who might be visiting one during the holidays, what are some important things to remember when spending a day at the beach?
Remembering to apply sunscreen is definitely important. So is bringing snacks, a blanket to lie on, and perhaps an umbrella to sit under. Maybe a toy bucket and shovel for the kids to play with in the sand.
But isn’t there something more important than all of those?