We woke at 3:07am on Saturday morning to a resounding crash. It was the creaking groan of a breaking bough and the splintering fall of timber. Adrenalin quivered in my fingertips as the needles shook on the ends of their own spindly limbs.
The tree stood all ragamuffin at the corner of the verandah, and the french doors were open for any minstrel of a breeze. February means hot summer nights on this antipodean farm.
February also means a new school year for us, so Saturday afternoon finds me in the study, reading about poetry and history and art… (We study history like a multi-stranded rope, snipping it open at a given point and investigating some variegated threads: literature and music and science and language and art and technology and ideas, all woven into one spectacular, linear story…).
This season we’ve selected the thread of our own family history: a familiar strand for the littlest students in our home to grasp, while we introduce them to the foreign, to the further afield… And so family stories and photos and timelines are spread out over the study table, for the fleshing out of a paper family tree.
If history is a story – and the universe, as Aristotle said, requires a beginning, a middle and an end… then it follows that history has an Author. And an Author who transcends but writes Himself into His own story: that is the golden thread running through the centre of the rope, from ‘In the beginning’ to ‘Amen’.
So we study His Words, and discover what He has to say about the parts of the story to which we’ve turned.
In this case: a Family Tree.
One might be forgiven for expecting a list of unpronounceable ‘begats’… But instead it is the words of an ancient prophet which speak the Author’s heart and thrill my mother’s soul:
I had written it in gold on the study window…
George Macdonald has defined art as “the revelation of the true through the beautiful”, and it is not until I see the fallen tree branch through the chalked study window that I recognise it as art: Truth and Beauty superimposed.
“They will be called Oaks of Righteousness…”
This, this is our charge. Entrusted with acorns: to raise strong saplings.
To so nurture the branch of a family tree in our home that when drought comes, its roots are deep and it knows where to find the Source that will quench desperate thirst.
To train its leanings in this short growing season in such a way that when the time comes, its timber will be strong and ready for use…