There is a tree by the street where I grew up. It is a tall maple, with limbs high and low. When I was little, it was a perfect tree for climbing and I found myself up in its high places many an afternoon after school. It was there I became a contemplative without even knowing.

I think I went there for the quiet; the higher I climbed, the quieter the world became. When I got high enough, and the trunk thinned, my whole body rode the sway of the branches in the wind, felt the flip and flutter of the leaves encompassing me. Everyone and everything else fell away: silence. In a dangerous place, I was safe.

You invited me to notice you there, to feel you in the wind, in the danger, in the quiet. You met me there, God, in the tree by the street where I grew up.

Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, MA, 2023