From Where I Sit

Essays by the Rev. F. Richard Garland
Through the Eyes of Our Grandchildren
September 2021

In our backyard there is an enormous Norway Maple. It is easily forty feet tall and the spread of its branches where they touch the ground is over sixty feet. Underneath its large airy canopy we have a hammock, a hanging chair, several lawn chairs, and a small table. The sunlight is filtered and the breezes are tempered. It is a wonderful place to sit or talk or read or think or rest.

I don’t think I really appreciated the meaning of the space until I saw it through the eyes of our grandchildren. As they came through a natural opening between the drooping branches, their eyes widened in wonderment. It was as though they were entering a new and magic space. They took it all in instantly and, as children do, they let their imaginations loose and began to play. They were at home in our back yard, happy and content and inventive. One of the openings in the branches became a doorway. A low leaf became a doorbell for children, while a higher leaf was for bigger kids. There was a still higher leaf as the doorbell for adults. They sat in the chairs, rested in the hammock, watched the birds, and ran in and out of the doorway until it was time to go.

I have a new appreciation for our backyard now because I have seen it through the eyes of our grandchildren. They saw a beauty that I too had seen but not really grasped. They received the tree and it’s canopy as a gift to do with what children do best, to play with. They saw the space, and to them it was sacred, even though they didn’t yet know the word. They saw the leaves rustling in the breeze, the sun peeking through, the birds passing through, and more: it was for them a home.

Maya Angelou once wrote: “Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. We need hours of aimless wandering or spates of time sitting on park benches, observing the mysterious world of ants and the canopy of treetops.” 

Oh, yes! I will appreciate my time under the canopy of our backyard tree even more now. It has been made sacred through the eyes of our grandchildren.

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