The Three Cedars
On my walk through my favorite park, there is a grouping of three stately young cedars alongside the path. I have photographed them often though they are not unusual. They are photogenic depending on the dappled light through the forest canopy. These three are still youngsters. A mature cedar will grow up to 200 feet and live up to 1,000 years!
Western red cedars are common on the west coast of British Columbia and were used in multiple ways by coastal first nations. They are favored for carving because of their soft wood and were frequently carved into totem poles and ocean going canoes. Artisans still use them in carving. Their bark comes off in strips and is useful in weaving a variety of objects.
And if you've done any roughing it camping trips, you'll know how useful it is to collect fresh cedar boughs and pile them on top of one another for a make-shift mattress. And the fragrance is magnificent, unless you have an allergy to cedar, then not so wonderful.
Western red cedar is a prized tree in logging as the wood splits easily and is great for making shingles.
Lately coastal cedars have been in trouble. An unusually dry summer 3-4 years ago combined with extremely high heat, has compromised these giants as they have shallow root systems and need much water. Dry summer conditions still persist. They use about 30 gallons a day on average. Without it, they die.
When they die, the sun bleaches their reddish bark to a pale, ashen color. The needles all fall off as do many of the small branches. These dead sentinels and called "white ghosts" of the forest, and are becoming a common site.
In fact only about two minutes walk from these healthy cedars is a small grove of young, but dead cedars, already whitening, looking ugly with their dead intertwined branches. What's noteworthy about the two groups of trees is that both are only a few feet from the creek that runs through the park. In fact the three living trees are about 7-10 meters from the creek, or about 20-25 feet. By contrast, the dead cedars are twice as close, maybe 4 meters or 10 feet maximum from the creek.
What wasn't helpful for the dead cedars is that the creek bed is very stony in that location and the trickle of water that flows in the heat of summer seems to dive into the gravel and reemerge farther along. The dead trees could not access any water, even though being almost within reaching distance of the creek bed. On the other hand, the healthy cedars, though farther back from the creek, are located in good deep soil that has enough moisture to last through the summer.
It occurred to me that people are sometimes like that too. Some folks are able to access the resources around them, while others just don't seem to be able find what they need despite being in reaching distance of what they need. They just can't seem to touch it.
That's especially poignant when their resource could be another person who has what they need, be it wisdom or understanding or acceptance and love. Some folks just can't reach out and touch. This can even be seen in families. One child seems to know how to access the love and care of their parents. And another in the same household seems always unable to experience what the brother or sister find so easily. It's a puzzle, but common.
It started me thinking. Who is there near me who I'm not sure knows how to reach out and touch what I might have to offer? Is there anyone in my family, or close associates? I am paying closer attention now. Maybe for whatever reason, that person doesn't know how to reach me. Then if I pray and pay attention to what they say and do, then maybe I can do the reaching for them. And maybe that's what will make all the difference for someone. Maybe even someone close by who I didn't notice was going thirsty.