Topping the Tree

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.”- Psalm 1:3

One of the highlights of my boyhood years was heading out to family land to find a Christmas tree.  There was a cedar grove down in the bottom land by Lindsay Branch, and this was always Dad’s destination.  We had to drive through a pasture and through several gaps to get to the grove.  Once we crossed the old crosstie bridge and passed through the muddy ruts around it, I knew we were almost there.

Early on, there were plenty of young cedars from which to choose.  But with passing years the grove thinned out, and we had to resort to “topping” the older trees.  For those that don’t know, “topping” refers to cutting and using the top out of a larger tree.

At first, I didn’t like this concept at all.  It seemed unnatural.  We were supposed to find the best young cedar in the woods, cut it at the base, load it in the truck, and trek out through the gaps and mud and crosstie bridge to home. The old trees were second choice trees for me.  But then I learned that some of the most beautiful Christmas trees we ever had were ones that had been topped.  And before long, I began to focus on the tree tops to find a suitable specimen for family Christmas gatherings.

When the Gift of gifts arrives, we are moved to share our best, to yield up our prime.  God desires our finest at any age. We will bear fruit in our season, according to God’s plan.  And we are never too old or frail to give our presents, and our presence, to the newborn King.

We all grow there, in the bottom lands: a stand of cedars near the creek bank, “planted by God to display His glory.” (Isaiah: 61).  Everlasting waters feed our roots, and the sap of life wells up inside and fills the air with incense.  The source of it all: water, sap, fine green tops, prickly perfume; the Logos, comes from Heaven through the muddy ruts for us.  He wants us all to fill the house with the spirit of Christmas.  He loves us, and wants our love, too. And He comes as an only Son to prove this Love, and to offer us eternal life beside the everlasting stream.

Young and old. Tops and all.

(Original watercolor by Lester E. Potts, Jr., an artist with Alzheimer’s)

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