Why Are Some Trees Evergreen?
Some people like the cold winter. They enjoy outdoor sports, hunting, and cross-country skiing. But many, perhaps most, do not enjoy winter. Winter afflicts us with colds, aches and pains, and the dangers of icy sidewalks and roads. We miss the full foliage of the trees and the soft variety of greens that surround us in Pennsylvania.
There is a legend I have heard - and you may have heard it, too. The legend explains why some trees are "evergreen" - that is, green, all year long.
When the plants and trees were first made, the Great Mystery gave a gift to each species. But first God set up a contest to determine which gift would be most useful to whom.
“I want you to stay awake and keep watch over the earth for seven nights.” God told them.
The young trees and plants were so excited to be trusted with such an important job that, the first night, they would have found it difficult not to stay awake. However, the second night was not so easy; just before dawn, a few fell asleep.
On the third night, the trees and plants whispered among themselves in the wind, trying to keep from dropping off - but it was too much work for some of them. Even more fell asleep, on the fourth night.
By the time the seventh night came, the only trees and plants still awake were the cedar, the pine, the spruce, the fir, the holly and the laurel.
“What wonderful endurance you have!” exclaimed the Great Mystery. “You shall be given the gift of remaining green, forever. You will be the guardians of the forest. Even in the seeming dead of winter, your brother and sister creatures will find life protected in your branches."
Ever since then, all the other trees and plants lose their leaves and sleep all winter, while the evergreens stay awake.
Of course, like all legends, there is a kernel of truth that is wrapped in the mantle of the fable. In this case, the truth is that some trees do stay green throughout winter. So, I suggest that we look at the evergreens around us and see them as signs of promise. Spring will come and all the greenery and the flowers will return. Life is renewed by the creative, loving care of our God.
May your celebration of Easter – the annual renewal of life and the gift of eternal life for all believers – be filled with all the joy and triumph of the day.
+Pastor Paul, on behalf of PLUM’s pastoral team
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773