Rows of trees

St JamesI stood next to the bride and groom. I never do that. I’m always looking at them, talking to them in my wedding message.

“Look at those trees,” I said.

This was an outdoor wedding. We were at one end of a nearly 200-yard clearing, with a row of pin oak trees along each side. The trees were planted in pairs, 40 feet apart from each other and 40 feet from each pair.

If the math is hard, picture the pillars of a cathedral, with the branches and leaves forming the roof.

“Beautiful, right?” I said.

I moved back to face the couple, but they and everyone at the wedding could still see the trees and the order and the green. And then I said something like this:

“Sixty years ago or so, someone took seedlings and planted them exactly with that order. Someone tended the seedlings, then the saplings.Clearing away the brush that could crowd in so that the trees could grow well. Watering when necessary, trimming when necessary. That someone didn’t know about you, not at all. But their choices to make and tend and protect this space have given us the space for your new beginning.

“You are also here because of years and decades and centuries of choices in your respective families. Some people that are here, some people that you know and have lost, some people that you have never known and could only imagine you. All of those people planted seeds and tended them with faithfulness in the present and hope for the future.

“We’ve not been perfect. Lives are different than trees, with more choices, perhaps. But with God’s help, you are here. And you are now starting something new. Planting seeds that we will see the results of in the years and decades ahead. Tend well, Weed carefully. Nurture lovingly.”