The Old Oak Tree (Day 1 From Cleansing Thoughts)
IT WAS ONE OF THE most beautiful meadow I had ever seen. Tall lush green grass layout before me as far as the eye could see, gently swaying with the wind as it was dancing. There was a feeling of peace and serenity unlike anything I had ever experienced, and with the strain of the past few weeks after my grandfather’s death, it was a welcome change. Then I saw it as if it had not been apart of the landscape until that moment, a tall oak tree with its outstretched branches reaching to the heavens. How beautiful was, and for some unknown reason, it seemed to bring a strong feeling of comfort to me, like I was drawing strength from it that penetrated every part of my soul.
As I approached this stately tree, I noticed two figures dressed in white standing under its branches. One appeared to be tossing something into the air, catching it, only to toss it up again. As I drew near, though I did see their faces, I knew instinctively who the two men were—one was my grandfather and the other was my father. As my grandfather’s hand opened, in it was a nut with the word DAD carved into it, and I heard my father say, “I can’t believe you kept it all these years.”
I wept with joy as I saw the two of them together, and the memory of their reunion will always be with me. What made it so special is God had fulfilled the desire of my sister's heart by returning the nut to our grandfather when he passed away. He had kept two nuts our father had given him as a young boy and in turn, gave them to each of us. These nuts became very special, and when God allowed us to know they had been returned to our father, it brought so much comfort to both of us.
Many years later, I would once again visit this place of peace and comfort. My heart had been troubled, and I found myself in need of God’s assurance. Nothing had changed; the beauty of the meadow had escaped time. Seeing the presence of the oak tree was like visiting an old friend. There was a man dressed in white holding the hand of a small child as they approached another gentleman. Again I did not see their faces, but in my heart, I knew who they were—one was my uncle Don, the other was my father holding the hand of my little girl. As they embraced, I heard my uncle say, “You would be proud of her. She turned out to be a beautiful young lady.” And then they were gone, and seeing the meadow was only a memory.
What a joy it was for me to see them together. My uncle had been a very important part of my Christian walk, and I was proud to know he approved of the person I was becoming. He had been an advisor and counselor to me for some time, and as he shared his love for the Lord, it provided guidance that helped me find inner peace through difficult times in my own walk. From time to time I would stop in at his church just to share something exciting I had learned from God’s Word, and he always encouraged me to continue with my studies.
My grandmother was another person who touched my life in a profound way. She was a woman who sought the heart of God for each person she prayed for. Yet there was one she never found peace within herself for; that was my father. He suffered from mental illness for a number of years until it reached a point that he could no longer cope with its effects. At the age of twenty-four, he took his own life. I had just turned three when he died and as hard as I have tried I have no memories of him to call my own. However, as I was growing up, grandma was always willing to share hers with me so that I would never forget who he was. One afternoon I shared with her that I felt in my heart he was not responsible for his actions that day because of his illness and that I believed he had found peace with God in his death. But I also knew her religious teaching left her uncertain, and I longed to see her at peace.
God granted me the honor of sitting with my grandma for several weeks before He called her home. During that time, I witnessed grandma’s prayers touch the lives of the staff who cared for her. She would talk with us about what she was seeing as if we could see it too. She told us about all the beautiful colors, and the flowers, and of all the children that were playing around her. Then one day my aunt and I were witnessed the most amazing time of the journey home. She opened her eyes and was looking at the foot of her bed and carrying on a conversation with an unseen guest, unseen that is to only us. As we sat there we could hardly breathe no wanting to disturb the presence in the room. Grandma was talking to the Lord, and though we couldn’t see nor hear him, there was no doubt in our minds that he was there. It wasn’t long afterward that grandma went home to be with the Lord.
The Lord, in all His mercy, knew the longing I had in my heart, so once again, He took me to the old oak tree. It was early spring when we went to the cemetery to lay grandma to rest, the sun was warm on our faces as my the three of us, our uncle walked down the hill with my sister and me, to our fathers' gravesite. Each of us had a pink rose from the spray on her casket to lay on his marker. When I lifted my head I was at the meadow not far from the old oak tree, then my heart leaped for joy as I saw her standing straight and tall with her arms around her son. I knew she had peace at last.
Many times, in the stillness of the night, I have thought of this place, wondering if he would wait for me at the oak tree, or is it only a place I see in the quietness of my dreams, where the sorrows of this life cannot enter in.