When an old cottonwood tree next to her home loses its leaves, Maria Evans becomes sad with the ensuing silence. The tree no longer makes its “heavenly applause” as the wind blows through its leaves. Winter is a season of silence, waiting for spring and the return of leaves.
The tree’s silence, though, is a reminder to her of the planned times of silence in the liturgical calendar:
One of the things I appreciate about the wisdom of our liturgical calendar is that it contains two seasons of planned silence–Advent and Lent. Both seasons remind me of a very important piece of the Biblical cycle of Creation–> Sin–> Repentance–> Restoration/Resurrection — that for things to be reborn, they must often die to themselves. That we don’t get to choose the nature of the restoration. That we will be given enough to make it through this time of silence. That what springs forth in the new season will most likely be better than we could have imagined or chosen for ourselves. That it is precisely when things seem the deadest is when the most diligent work of restoration is taking place. My cottonwood tree is not uncomfortable with its silence. I am.
My season of silence now is no longer hearing our Ascend praise band sing each week. That music was essential my spiritual life. A few of the band members tell me their silence now is in not hearing my preaching. In many ways we will need to live with the silence, waiting for what will come next.
This post on cottonwoods reminded me of a row of old cottonwoods west of our home in Carson City, when I lived there as a teen and young adult. In the autumn their leaves turned a golden yellow, which looked striking against the brilliant blue mountain sky. I used to revel in that sight each year.