“He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.” – Song of Solomon 2:4
Living in Egypt for many years gave us a deep appreciation for the change of seasons. Although it seemed in Cairo that there were only two seasons – one being hot and the other hotter – the trees knew when to bloom. We loved the deep red flame trees (above), the towering purple jacarandas (above), and the crimson-flowered poinsettia trees. The deep colors of these trees were striking on the canvas of this colossal sand-colored city, built atop the Sahara Desert.
Then in our years in Tunisia and Morocco, the seasons changed more like the four we were used to in the U.S. The rainy seasons there (October to March) ushered in spring vegetation. The flowering almond, apple, and cherry trees brought the promise of the first fruits of summer.
Now settled back in the States, we are re-discovering this amazing season of Spring. At first, early signs of winter’s earth coming out of its hard freeze are very subtle. The yellow crocuses push through the gray soil almost overnight. Then wild violets peak purple through fallen leaves. As more and more flowers bud and bloom, our eyes are drawn up from the ground to see spring wonder all around us. Then the trees awake – with the warming sun, the lengthening days, and whatever else signals the time of flowering. This is my favorite time of Spring. When the flowers open on the trees, and the leaves follow. We tune our eyes upward to the incredible glory. These magnificent trees are a grand display of exquisite beauty – a praise offering to Creator God. What a gift He gives us in these trees. They are truly like a banner of His love over us.
In our neighborhood, there are so many different kinds of flowering trees – some of which we remember fondly from other places and some which we’re just learning. Even the maple trees, for so long bare, have seed clusters adorning them as if they were flowers.
Just like with food, fragrance, and music, these flowering trees trigger memories of places, people, and graces of God. Flowering pear trees, for instance, remind me of my nephew, Chad, who died at 23 in a car accident. Our shock and devastation at losing him so suddenly was cushioned, in surprising ways, by the grace of God. One of those being the funeral procession in Georgia, during the month of March. As we slowly made our way to the cemetery, this long line of cars full of people who loved Chad, we traveled roads lined with dazzlingly white pear trees. It was as if they stood at attention, against the blue sky, like a military color guard, there to honor this darling young man.
Redbuds in bloom always remind us of Spring in East Tennessee where we lived when the children were small. The deep pink-purple flowering clusters were our signal that winter was finally over. Even though they are blooming now, here in Virginia, I am always reminded of Tennessee.
Dogwoods and crepe myrtle trees remind me of my mom’s yard. No matter where I see them, my mind goes back to our home growing up. The same goes for tulip magnolias and Dave’s mom. They bloomed so bright and full on the trees beside his parents’ white clapboard house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When I see them, it’s that place that comes to mind…even though they have long-since moved to another house, one without tulip magnolias.
The flowering trees are my favorite part of Spring’s majesty. There are shrubs and bushes that rival the trees in beauty. Each with their own grand entrances. First the forsythia, then the azaleas. Then as Spring moves toward Summer, the wisteria, rhododendron, hydrangeas, and others.
Lastly, looking back to those years, again, in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco….with hedges of bougainvillea, rows of hibiscus trees, and arbors wound with jasmine. Those glimpses of glory rested our eyes and lifted our souls. We were always reminded that nature gives witness to a good and gracious God who reveals Himself in so many ways. These breathtaking flowering trees of Spring are as a banner of His love unfurled over our heads. All we have to do is look up.
“I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. – Isaiah 41:19-20
Photo Credit: Images of flowering almond tree, jacaranda tree, and apple tree; flame tree; all others are mine.