They stand rooted and grounded along the shore of the first lake at Rustfontein Farm. There is not a forest of them, just a little line of them and oh how they capture the scenery there. I have absolutely no idea how long they have stood there, but many hours of peace, stillness, picnics and leisure hours have been enjoyed beneath their drooping branches joined by a myriad of birds, an odd rabbit and many other critters who came to find cool shade, serenity and water. A welcome reprieve from a noisy and demanding world. Sheer tranquillity is experienced here for those who take the time to be refreshed beneath their generous branches. Willow trees have a quality of
about them. Flowers and food are not what makes them so spectacular, it is in fact their simplicity and unapologetic droopy stance that draws a weary soul towards them. Willow trees have very giving branches. They can be twisted and turned and plaited to make wreaths or arrangements and they root easily. Take a branch and plant it into soil close to water. As it is their nature to root easily, they will provide beauty and shelter as they grow into majestic trees that sway with the breeze and allow life to enjoy their bountiful shade and shelter. There are many lessons to be learned from willow trees. But those are personal and reserved for those who sit or lie down to rest beneath their canopy. Willow trees are mentioned quite often in the Bible and have been around for thousands of years. Trees that like the same conditions are poplar trees. Poplar trees grow taller and upright. Willow trees droop and invite you to take a breather. Jews used mainly willow branches to build their booths for the Feast of Tabernacles. When the Hebrew people were taken captive by the Babylonians, their usual voices of praising and singing became still. They hung their harps on the branches of willow trees because they did not feel like singing about their homeland, while they were living in a foreign land. Their lament is written in Psalm 137. I find it very interesting that during the celebrations of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jews wave a cluster of branches in their exuberant praise to God as they remember how God led them through the wilderness. In this cluster you find three varieties. The largest is the palm branch. Palms grow in valleys, so the palm branch reminds the Jews how God led them through many valleys. The slightly smaller branch with very dark green leaves, is from the myrtle. Now myrtles grow in the mountains, so those branches remind the worshipers how God led them through mountains. So they are reminded that God is always with them in the valley and on the mountains. The drooping branch in the cluster with light green leaves is the willow. Willows grow by the water brooks. This reminds them that God gave them water in the desert. This is a glorious life lesson. As we journey through the wilderness of the world, we are hereby to remember that no matter what we go through in this life, even when the valley seems too dark and too deep, God will be with you. When life seems dry and harsh and rocky, God will go through it with you and He will keep you from falling! When life becomes dry like sand and life seems empty, He will not leave you, He will stay close to you and He will even supply rivers of water. It is just a spiritual truth. The eventual fruit will only be fully experienced when your journey here ends, because that is not the end, it is only you journeying to your final destination.. Once you get there, you will fully be enabled to give thanks that even when it seemed impossible, weary and hard, your journey was blessed because you were never alone. Next time you are fortunate enough to gaze upon a willow tree, think about this. In fact take an hour or so, spread a blanket and rest there. You will not be disappointed. God loves you.