Trees and Old Men

Last week I was sitting with an older gentleman under the shade of his front porch roof. He is not in the best of health and has been retired for twenty years. I had trimmed some of the low hanging branches from a large oak tree in his front yard. The utility company had severely trimmed the street side of the tree. The older gentleman now saw the tree as mangled and better off cut down.

The gentleman has lived longer then any member of his family and all of his siblings, except his youngest. His gait is slow and failing. His mind at times is distracted and a bit confused. Other times his quick wit and smile are apparent and even a bit surprising. He is a people person. He needs people and needs to be needed.

I look at his oak tree a bit differently. From where we sat, I saw a wonderful shade tree. Sure it had limbs that needed to be pruned. Dead limbs were growing in number. If I wanted to I could focus on the extensive pruning the utility company had done on the street side of the tree, but I chose to focus on the beauty and usefulness that remained.

I don’t think I have ever seen an olive tree other than in pictures. The olive tree, known for both its fruitfulness and its longevity, can live several hundreds of years. In fact, some of today’s olive trees date back to the time of Jesus. Even though the older trees are gnarly, they are treasured and continue to produce fruit in a variety of ways. Perhaps, the Psalmist had the olive tree in mind when he penned the words,

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.
— Psalm 92:14

Aging is not fun my mother tells me. Maybe we are looking at the street view instead of the side that still produces fruit. We all need to be needed.

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries