Ode to the Live Oak

Is it not a paradox?

How does this tree,

this Live Oak,

with its thick dense trunk of hard wood

anchored securely in the earth,

stand tall, strong and proud

while its reclining, gnarly branches

stretch out and kneel humbly

against the ground?


How does it do both?

How does it be both–

tall and proud,

broad and humble?

How does it risk being itself?

So fully itself?


It’s anchored,




It can afford the twin risks

of humility and reverence.


Maybe someday I’ll hang a picture of this compelling tree,

and on those days when I walk that

precarious tightrope of frailty,

I’ll remember:  Stay grounded.


On clear days the sun’s rays stream

through window-like spaces

between its branches,

illuminating the ground below with

a speckled mix of light and shade,

like life, to be sure.  A mix.


Maybe one day I’ll sit under its canopy,

be present to its sanctuary-type presence,

and rest in its marvelous contradiction

of being.

Angel Oak 1
Angel Live Oak, Charleston, SC



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