Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Ailanthus and The Ginko

Outside my window, across the street, next to the fence of Prospect Park, is a ginko tree. It shades the bench where Melody and I sometimes sit.

Last Wednesday, it still had all its leaves, though most of them had turned. We went to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. When we got back on Friday all its leaves were down. Suddenly, like that.

And there was a beautiful carpet of yellow gold, with touches of green, around our bench. The sidewalk was covered, and the carpet was clean and fresh. In a day or two its lustre would be gone.

The ailanthus is on our side of the street, right against our building. It seems to have dropped its leaves just as suddenly. But they were scattered, and on the street. And it dropped its stems as well, the long leaf stems on which its leaflets grow, and they now litter the corner like straw.

I do not love thee, ailanthus, as I love the ginko. You have come here from China too, but you are lower class, and you have no lovely bark, and your branches break, and people call you messy.

How they can call you "Tree of Heaven" I don't know, unless it is the love of God in Heaven that loves you, and loves you no less than the ginko. But I am not God. My heart is so much smaller with less room for love.

Yet I have accepted you, finally, next to my window. At first I was consumed with wishing you were a maple or an oak, but you are what you are, and I submit to God's love of you.

But ginko, thank you for the carpet that showed us what Eden was like in its first autumn.

1 comment:

Marcia said...

I have an "ailanthus" tree in my congregation that I am consumed with wishing were a maple or oak or ginko. Your word helps me to submit to the ailanthus-isness of my parishioner and thus for God's love of her. Thank you.