Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Earth's Vegetation

As I was looking at the trees behind my house the other day I was reminded of the wonderful poem called “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer that I learned at a child. The first few verses go something like this:

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.”

Now as an adult I see trees with a physicist’s eyes. I see the leaves reaching into the sky to absorb energy from the sun. The tree’s roots reach deep into the soil to absorb nutrients, drawing the liquids up the trunk through tiny capillary tubes. I think of the enormous stresses at the places where the large limbs are attached to the trunk. When I hold my arms straight out like that even for a few minutes my shoulders ache. Clearly every tree is a miracle. Kilmer’s poem ends:

“Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

Many of the remarkable features of trees are repeated in all vegetation on Earth. God gave us the miracle of vegetation not only for shade and food, but to control the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air we breathe. Christ’s Team is challenged to learn to manage vegetation with great wisdom to preserve the quality of life on Earth.

Wisdom is found in prayer.
Robert C. Frank