If You Can’t Find the Forest for the Trees, then for Heaven’s Sake, Look at the Trees

The Gift of Intricacy ~ a blessing, on the occasion of Ashley and John’s wedding


There is something mystical and spiritual about the start of a thing – a wedding, a year. The birth of a thing brings hope, its newness must give us pause.

We live our lives, or I have, with an exalted view of the grandness of things ever-lurking in my mind’s corners. “What’s the big picture?” people ask and are asked, and while this question is not inherently wrong or certainly not evil, it seems to me that this is a question more appropriate for business ventures or long-range planning. I think there is a better ideology for the business of day-to-day living, a better view for living happily alongside another person.

Life is indeed big, and often so very noisy.   The days and weeks of weddings are grand and noisy, and they should be. But life is also small and quiet and intricate.

There’s not much I can give you in the way of a gift, except this – the hope that you will ponder the idea of intricacy, the thought, the ability to see the beauty in the small things.


Life is not smooth.  It is bumpy and full of difficult terrain.  The ancient historian Pliny the Elder, so far ahead of his own time, knew that the earth was not flat. But he didn’t think it was round, either; he thought it was spherical and shaped more like a pineapple. With all the mountains and hills and ridges and valleys, certainly the surface earth could not be smooth, he reasoned.


Life is not smooth.  It is dappled and messy.  My favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, finds glory and beauty in the motley-ness and knows Who to thank:

Glory be to God for dappled things / For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow, / For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim…


 Life is not smooth.  But it is intricate. Let us look at the beauty of the created natural world, and wonder. Chloroplasts bear chlorophyll and give the green world its color.  Neutrons and electrons whirl and swirl in musical cadences that keep us living and we never think on it.

Every snowflake is completely unique. Every one.


Water bugs and speckled frogs flit and float on ponds whether I am looking or not.  Beautiful fringed feathers clothe the mere sparrow at my birdfeeder with a dappled beauty man could ever replicate, and yet I daily fail to see the miracle.

There are, on average, six million leaves on the branches of any given large elm tree. Have I really ever seen one?


God creates an extravagance of minutiae. Even on the perfectly ordinary and clearly visible level, creation carries on with an intricacy unfathomable and uncalled for.

The least we can do is slow down and take a look.


Life is not smooth.  The surface of mystery is never smooth.  But it is certainly beautiful.  Fix your attention to the fish’s fin and the flower’s pollen-smile, to the fruity sharpness of the tart apple, to the sun-sprinkles of gold in the gentle blueberry of her eyes.

 Ashley and John, readers and friends ~

God is giving you another happiness, unexpected.  His mercies are new every morning.     This is His way.


If I were able it to do over again, I would live much of my life differently. I would open my eyes sooner to the gift of intricacy ~ I will begin today, again.

On these days of weddings and years new, may you open eyes wide to the extravagance of God in every miniscule, intricate detail – His gifts are given in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.


2 thoughts on “If You Can’t Find the Forest for the Trees, then for Heaven’s Sake, Look at the Trees

  1. Great story>
    I believe God has to be at the center of any marriage>
    Next month Jeanne & I will have been together 42 years & one thing I have learned is if you give more than you expect in return, and each partner has that attitude, you will have a loving, happy marriage>
    Grace & peace,


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