Click above to listen to the original piano-cello duet Snow Angel as you read (with Grammy winning cellist Eugene Friesen). This track is from 2009 Best Holiday Album December Peace (ZMR Awards, winning over Enya and Yo-Yo Ma). If you enjoy, please consider sampling and ordering the CD, MP3 Album or sheet music. You can also listen and download on iTunes and all other digital outlets.
This story is from 31 Days of December Peace (soft cover or eBook). Also available from Amazon Kindle, iTunes, and other e-Readers.
Where could you use some “December Peace” today?
The Sweet Gum Tree ~ by Stanton Lanier (Copyright 2012, not to be re-published without permission)
I loved to climb trees in North Carolina as a boy. Our yard had pines, dogwoods, a few tall hardwoods and a persimmon tree. But across the street was a giant sweet gum tree. This was the dream climb.
The sweet gum tree towered above the rest. The little green, prickly round balls were captivating. They were brilliant green in the spring and summer, and turned brown and fell to the ground in the fall. The trunk was way too big to put my arms around. The top seemed a hundred feet higher. Once you reached the highest branch you could sit on, the world seemed so much smaller down below. You would sway a foot or two in the wind up there. It was only pleasure though – no fear.
It was always fun throwing the sweet gums from up in the tree. “Projectile DNA” is just hardwired into boys. One time some friends and I decided to see if we could hit a car as it drove by. My heart raced. What would happen if we actually hit one? We found out. The screech of tires skidding scared us half to death. A man got out, shook his finger up at the tree yelled something. It sounded like he was saying “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I recall butterflies in my stomach as I was throwing the balls – followed by a gasp as I feared death at the hands of sweet gum road rage! Thankfully the driver decided not to climb the tree to get us. As the car drove away we all sighed with relief and started to retell the story to each other. We didn’t need to throw any more that day.
My soul was stirred every time I climbed that sweet gum tree. There were secret things I discovered up there… freedom from worry, the independence of a bird, the choice to pause and take in the beauty, the awesome power of nature, the wonder and simplicity of childlike faith. I was part of something a lot bigger than myself. It was like I had a part in the story. There did not seem to be any limitations on what was possible in this life.
Did you have a sweet gum tree or favorite childhood hideaway? Where do you find simplicity?
Judy Houle says
I started hiking about 30 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since! As I get older, I find myself longing more and more to strap on my hiking boots (sometimes with snowshoes attached) and get into the woods or climb a small mountain. Breathing the fresh air and taking in the scenery is magical!
This summer, after having lost almost 60 pounds and getting back in shape, my husband and I climbed Gorham Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine. The climb was strenuous, but we did it! The cool breeze on a warm, sunny day as it filtered through the trees on the way up was a real treat. The sky was as blue as it gets and when we reached the summit, we were treated to a full view of Frenchman’s Bay and the open Atlantic. It was a glorious moment when the world was left behind and we basked in the Creator’s handiwork.
I’ve hiked 2 other smaller mountains since: one in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts, and there is nothing like it. A climb through the woods on rocky terrain and arriving at the summit to be treated to an amazing view of the world below melts all the cares of life away and allows me to connect with the Father in a way that is indescribable. This simple joy was my husband’s birthday gift to me this year. No need for presents and bows – just the time with him and the experience of Creation was all I needed.
My place is halfway around the world in Portugal. In between Cascais and Cabo da Roca, right along the coastal road N247 is my Rock Beach. I climb out on the super sharp volcanic rocks, find a perch, and stare into the restless and forceful Atlantic Ocean as it hurls itself on the rocks.
It’s deserted and peaceful…and a perfect place to do some deep thinking.
Stanton Lanier says
Thank you Mare for reading this post and sharing your comment. Grace and peace to you, Stanton