Saturday, July 7, 2012

The cedars of Lebanon

A great many things are put into perspective when you go into a forest. Today, we took a trip north to one of the national reserves where the famed cedars of Lebanon are nurtured. For centuries, the hills of the country were pillaged by all the surrounding countries, to the point that the tree which adorns the  national flag was only rarely visible from within the borders of Beirut. Thanks to some well-placed investments, 5% of Lebanon is now designated as preserves for the cedars.

            The cedars are monuments to longevity and the strength of slowness. Growing at an average rate of 2-4 centimeters *per year*, the trees are not, shall we say, quick at anything. But when you walk into these preserves and see trees towering 75 feet above you, trees with four or five trunks, providing shade with layers and layers of branches, you realize you are in the presence of something completely unlike the quickly built and quickly disposed of world a city. Within the city itself, the Dar El Awlad center is in the shadow of half a dozen unfinished buildings, and surrounded on all sides by development and crowded streets. But in the preserve, there is only the long view on life; 100 years for a cedar will only get you maybe a ten foot tree.

            Much like the work that Dar El Awlad does with the boys, so it is with the cedars: slow, intentional, flowering. There is a movement afoot called "slow church", designed to recover this truth--that the kingdom of God does not capitulate to our timing, nor is it ours to carve out of concrete, but it is, as Jesus says, like a tree which grows and spreads its branches and provides home to many. It is like a seed that is planted and sprouts slowly season over season; it is like a plant which grows in silence and then explodes in abundance. So, perhaps rather than "slow church", maybe, taking the cue from the trees of Jesus' parables, we should just say "church". There is certainly a way of moving fast, but most often, the Scriptures calls that "grass", whereas that which grows and flowers and provides a home is called "tree".

            The work of Dar El Awlad is paintstaking, with a group of boys, day over day, year over year, promising no quick solutions. Such it is with the cedars. Such it is with the Kingdom of God.
~Myles Werntz

Our VERY tired Minister of Missions, Hannah, catching a quick nap.

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