There’s just something about trees.
Here in the South, we have live oak trees. They are huge, and leafy, and they drip with silvery Spanish moss.
But there’s one Tree in particular that is more than just another tree. There are few words in the English language that can truly explain this Tree. “Majestic” comes to mind. It’s the Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island. And it is a sight to behold.
We have tried to explain The Tree to our friends and family. We allow our eyes to grow wide and our voices to lower to a reverent whisper when we speak of its beauty. But its not until we take them to stand beneath her boughs that it truly makes sense. We tell them what to expect, and how they will react. We tell them “you will marvel at its girth, its grandeur, its grace. And you will be awed.”
People pilgrimage to The Tree. They come to sit at the base of her massive trunk. They come to place their hands upon the bark. They come to breathe in the smell of earth and fallen leaves. They come to listen to the music of the wind as it sings through the limbs. Conversations stop as they first encounter her, and voices are immediately hushed to a whisper. There’s a reverence here, a sense of awe and wonder, of piety. With faces lifted to heaven, a deep spirituality washes over all who enter here.
|Pictured: Brian’s Aunt Tina–rock star, true friend, and fellow tree enthusiast.|
After a few moments, murmured questions arise. “How old is it?” you will ask. And we will respond, “They estimate over 1500 years old.” You’ll cross your arms, close your eyes, and think back to your high school world history class. You’ll think of all the life that was lived beneath the boughs of The Tree. The wars that were fought, the homes that were built and destroyed, the people in bonnets and hoop skirts or feathered headdresses and deerskin leggings who must have journeyed here as well. You think of the hands that have tended The Tree. The people who have dedicated their lives to keeping it healthy. The men or women who have weeded around its base, propped up the limbs that were beginning to crack, and carefully removed those damaged by wind and storm. And you’ll place your hands on the rough bark, run your fingers over the lichen and the moss and the knots. And you’ll place yourself in The Tree’s history, too.
And when the time comes to leave, you’ll find it hard to pull away. You’ll look back over your shoulder, taking in Mother Nature’s imposing work of art, and you will sigh. And as your car bumps down the dirt path of Bohicket Road, you will try to put your adoration into words. And you know, deep in your heart, that The Angel Oak will call to you until you meet again.