When I was a child we had only one large tree in our yard and it was really big – a maple standing very close to the house. I remember it as a danger to small birds falling out of their nests. (We buried them in shoeboxes in the backyard.) There was also a concern when strong storms were predicted because if the tree was uprooted, the whole house would surely have been “collateral damage” as well. It never occurred to me that the house was probably more susceptible to destruction than the mammoth tree whose roots were very deep and whose trunk reached very high into the sky before any branching could be seen. It was not a tree to be climbed.
I was reminded this morning of that tree and the forsythia bushes in the yard that we “climbed” (read: “scrunched ourselves into to about a foot off the ground”) as the only option to the great maple. I was reading about Zacchaeus (LK 19:1-10) who was short in stature but really wanted to see Jesus so he climbed a sycamore tree. I wondered how big the tree was and how accessible. I wondered about the agility of this man who didn’t seem a likely candidate for discipleship; he was the chief tax collector, after all. Small man, big tree…he must have been seriously determined and it appears that Jesus was impressed. The crowd who knew Zacchaeus was perhaps scornful when they saw him climbing the tree and surprised at the reaction of Jesus to it all.
My tree-climbing ability was never the best (Look what I had to work with in my youth!) but I wonder if I would have been willing to struggle up that sycamore if it meant a better view of Jesus. Perhaps I could consider flexing some inner muscles today, just in case Jesus happens to pass by.