There is a wonderful, stately oak tree in the backyard at the old house. You could see him out the kitchen window. He has HUGE, strong limbs that held up well against the blustery spring days of the past and the weight of a layer of ice in last year’s storm.
In the spring, I would often go outside and lie down on the driveway for a few moments
when the intense warmth from the sun on my face felt like a stranger
and the chill of the pavement on my back offered great contrast.
I would look up through those beautiful branches
and find myself squinting … my eyes surprised by the intensity of light
after a long, dark winter.
How quickly clouds would roll past.
How unfamiliar was the crisp, blueness of the sky.
And at least once a winter,
the oak would offer me a substantial cutting of mistletoe
placed in my walking path
right there on the ground so I couldn’t miss it.
Careful not to dislodge the waxy, pearl berries,
I would gently bring it into the house
find a “Christmas vase”
and call it an arrangement.
Mistletoe has always reminded me of south Georgia.
The pecan trees hide the orbs of green through the lush summer,
but Oh, Fall!
Those parasitic plants are revealed
when the trees become bare.
Wiki says that mistletoe is not native to America. And it explains that mistletoe requires a host plant. It buries roots into the limbs of a host plant and then draws nutrients and water from the tree or shrub. And in some cases, the limb upon which it plants itself can eventually lose circulation, die and fall from the tree. So, in more ways than one, it is an uninvited invader to our area and to the plant it thrives upon.
And yet it is beautiful … at least in my eyes.
The balls of life dot the tree canopies across thousands of acres during those cold months when most life that bears a bark overcoat is barren and slumbering. They cling tight in the frigid, blustery air of winter and offer fresh berries to birds and other foragers. And they remind me of the symbol of Christmas festivity – to offer a kiss when you stand beneath a sprig.
Not far from our new home,
I spied a tree full of mistletoe.
My heart sighed with joy.
God knows how I love mistletoe.
And like a gateway tree welcoming us to our new home,
I drove past this tree time and again
when we first visited
and later began to move our belongings
just around the corner.
These two photos were taken less than two weeks apart during mid March.
And as I drove past this morning with the sun barely over the horizon?
The mistletoe is nearly completely hidden.
The tree’s new leaves are a fresh, spring green … just moving past wildly iridescent …
while the parasitic plant is a deep, saturated jungle green.
The tree is filling in with leaves on every branch and limb.
I thought about how there are times when life is so full of growth
that we no longer notice the parasite who has the potential to cause damage.
He is covered, disguised and hidden.
He lingers there nourishing and growing
while we hardly notice his presence.
Wiki also points out that mistletoe has long been considered harmful to its host plant, but recent studies have revealed that it offers many benefits. Many animals eat the berries, shoots and leaves of the mistletoe plant. Their orbs provide protection for some animals during winter and others nest in them. Some animals that are drawn to the plant, become covered in pollen from the host. Later, these animals carry that pollen to other host plants, so the mistletoe actually encourages pollination of his host.
I am so reminded how our pains and discomfort can bring good.
When someone comes into our life that puts down roots
and steals what we feel is OUR nourishment,
they may simultaneously be beneficial to our lives
in ways that we might not expect.
In the end, we may feel like we have “lost a limb” because of their presence,
but searching can show us ways that we have benefitted from their stay
or that others have grown and reproduced via their intrusion.
It isn’t always pretty
when we are used as a host,
but if we search
we can find ways to see
how our loss
can also be the channel used
for gain, good and glory.
And, to be truthful,
in the end
we may find that
the “loss of a limb”
was a small price to pay
for the good that came
and also a small price to pay
to have them finally out of our lives.
I love mistletoe!
Mistletoe brings me joy.
What about you?
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?