Pine Trees, Palm Trees, and Taking a Walk Outside the Courthouse

Not the pine tree I walked under (Wikimedia)

Not the pine tree I walked under

The pine trees shade the walk as I step out of the courthouse, the fragrance from the needles amplified by the heat of the day. A short walk down the alley to the library and I’m now beneath the palm trees with their green fronds far overhead, lying still in the noon air.

Not one of the palm trees I walked under (Wikimedia)

Not one of the palm trees I walked under

This is life in California. Long-needled pines and stately palms grow side by side with lawns and roses and chaparral and ivy beneath, depending on the mood of the gardener.

Then there is the abundance of fresh produce: more types of berries than I can count, stone fruit of almost infinite varieties, squashes and row crops and orchards of nuts and citrus. Dairy and poultry and cattle and sheep and all manner of animal growing around me wherever I look.

Orange grove (Source)

Orange grove

Salmon in the wild (Wikimedia)

Salmon in the wild

And the seafood! I can’t tell you how many types of fresh seafood we are blessed with here, but I can tell you that I ate my share and then some as I grew up in California. Dungeness crab, goose neck clams, salmon and sturgeon, halibut and cod and abalone for crying out loud! I grew up along that wonderful coast and ate my fill.

Speaking of the coast, the natural beauty of California is a wonder. I spent day after day on my bike riding up and down the miles of coastline that stretch my hometown along the Pacific. We’d take visitors on short cruise rides on San Francisco Bay. Yosemite Valley and the Sierra peaks, Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, we spent time in them all plus the active volcano that is Mt. Lassen, and the rushing rivers sweeping down the mountainsides, and the seemingly endless miles of oak woodlands that stretch along the foothills that run almost the entire length of the state.

I took all this for granted when I was little. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate it and enjoy it, because I did. It’s just that I thought everyone lived like this. It turns out they don’t.

An Abundance of Creation

My walk under the palms and pines at lunch today got me thinking about God’s creation, especially the new creation.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2.)

The flowing river nurtures the tree, a tree abundant with life, so abundant that its very leaves are for healing. This tree with its unending fruit grows in the midst of a city full of God’s wondrous creative beauty:

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11.)

A high and majestic mountain, a city that shines clear as crystal with the glory of God, a river – again clear as crystal – that flows from the throne of God and feeds the tree that heals and feeds forever. This is a scene that makes all the wonders of my home state fade into the background.

Which brings me back to my childhood thought: can everyone live this way, can everyone look forward to an eternity in this new creation? In Jesus they can, whether they grew up in California or not.

It’s clear as crystal.


[This post first ran last June. I thought of it yesterday as I walked beneath the trees and realized it was a day almost exactly like the one described here.]

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12 Responses to Pine Trees, Palm Trees, and Taking a Walk Outside the Courthouse

  1. Native Californian says:

    Thanks for making me homesick for CA (live in TX now) and Heaven at the same time. Theological Question: How do you reconcile a love of the Pacific Ocean, as shown above, and Rev 21:1 “….there was no longer any sea.”?

    • Tim says:

      I’ve pondered that one before, wondering how there can be a heaven without the beautiful ocean. On a serious note, I think sea is used metaphorically there in the OT sense of a place of chaotic danger. None of that in the new creation!

      • Native Californian says:

        Well said. We stayed in Pacifica several years ago at a hotel right on the ocean. Loved it. Beautiful place. Having grown up in Southern California, we were surprised to find ourselves buying coats in July!

        • Tim says:

          Did you stay on Rockaway Beach? Prettiest cove on the whole 7 mile stretch of Pacifica coastline.

        • Tim says:

          And on coats in July: it wasn’t until I went to college at Santa Barbara that I found out a person could go to the beach without a parka.

        • Native Californian says:

          It was Rockaway Beach and it was beautiful. Hope to go back someday. BTW: Thanks for blogging, always enjoy your thoughts.

  2. Pastor Bob says:

    Being a mountain lover, i have the unique experience of the skills that come with this. This cannot segue into the next but, ALL of His creation is wonderful, beautiful, etc…..

  3. Sounds like you live in a beautiful place. I was thinking the same today – how sometimes I catch a glimpse of heaven. Today has been a beautiful, sunny, breezy June day. England on a fine summer’s day is glorious. Everywhere is verdant and the clouds shine bright against the sky.
    Little Chip likes to take herself off to the park after school for ten minutes or so. Today she didn’t notice me arriving. I watched her swinging with her head back, her hair streaming and her feet outstretched as if she was flying in that endless sky. We live in a beautiful house, too, with history and character. I have always wanted to live in a house like this. It’s a storybook house. And the house is in a lovely town, also with real history and character. We have potatoes, herbs and onions bursting forth in the garden, and a pair of collared doves nesting in a tree who bow and coo to each other. We also have a little blackbird who I swear sings jazz.
    I love this place. I don’t deserve any of it, but it’s the perfect place to heal and recover. Maybe that’s the answer to my question from earlier. Maybe I’m just supposed to be getting better and loving my family – and not being so hard on myself. Thanks, Tim. Goodnight from the Lost Corner of Middleshire 🙂

    • Tim says:

      I loved my corner of England when I lived in the South Downs at University of Sussex, sfk. Such a peaceful, verdant and beautiful place. Yes, heal and love and don’t be at all hard on yourself – that’s the gospel life God has given you in grace.

  4. I just returned from a visit to my hometown, New Orleans. The good things of God’s creation also include great food and great music; a foretaste of what’s in store.

    • Tim says:

      Absolutely, David. I am so glad for the tastebuds God gave me, and you know I love good music. ________________________________________

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