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From Safari…Lessons from a TREE STAND.

Vehicles dart about on the highways proudly displaying their successful hunting of deer or trees.

In the past few weeks countless hunters have climbed their TREE STANDS in hopes of shooting a deer, perhaps a trophy buck. The time on the tree stand often provides a time to be in sync with nature and to reflect. One hunter mused, “The wilderness always affirms my belief in God.

When you observe the intricacies of an ecosystem unsullied by the hand of humankind and begin to understand how every plant, rock, liquid and animal — and the vagaries of weather — all have their place in the working of day-to-day life, and then break it down as far as you can to the interactions between various individual elements, how can you believe anything but that it was all part of some grand design, and not random?” And still another, “If the apocalypse came while I was on stand and I was the only person left alive, would I hurry to eat all the ice cream before the power shut off?” And my favorite: “It’s only 11:00 a.m. Why did I eat all my lunch already?”

Other hunters roam streets or stores. This hunter may have a saw in hand, walking through snow, (Yes, Virginia, there is snow. Watch the snow come now.) to find the perfect Christmas tree. Others go from lot to lot, looking for the right tree. (Long needle, short needle; fir, pine, spruce, cedar… ) The tree is placed in the TREE STAND to settle before it is adorned with lights and ornaments. The true in all its regal glory had one tree hunter ponder, “A Christmas tree allows me to settle into the meaning of Christmas. It reminds me of the tree that brought the need for a child born in Bethlehem and the tree of Calvary that righted it all. And it reminds me to stop climbing for a never attainable perfection but to recognize that God who covers me in grace is close enough to touch.”

Advent is a season that invites us to ponder from a TREE STAND. We are challenged to see God’s hand at work in the world and how we are invited to actively bring God’s love to one another. We are challenged to be patient with others and ourselves, recognizing that each of us is the dwelling place of Emmanuel. We are challenged to remember that Bethlehem to Jerusalem is the most important event in our lives. God’s son breaks into this world as a baby is placed in the tree of a manger and on the tree of the cross and his resurrection sets us free from sin and death.

O come, O come Emmanuel! Fr. Ron

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