Song of the South: Tree of Life

As Spring is breaking in all around us, I want to share this poem I wrote a few years ago about the transition from the winters of our life into the breaking forth of new life in the spring times that burst forth.   In looking at it, I am struck both by how it connects with the sprouting of new life all around me in the Carolina spring time I am seeing outside and also how it connects with my own experience of finding new life following the heartache of losing my late wife Katharine to Arnold Chiari.

I hope its words invite you to find new life, new hope, even in the midst of pain.

Your progressive redneck preacher,



Tree of Life


summer stormAt times you come to me terrifying like the storm

crashing thunder shaking the soundness of my soil

hail-filled wind bending the boughs of my existence

shattering sheets of ice stripping my bark bare

leaving me feeling naked


shed of all security and safety

alone in the world


Then when I begin to look around

devastated and afraid

feeling alone and without hope

you come to me


You come like the cool shower of springtime

like the warmth of the sun

alight upon the wind

you come like the embrace of dewdrops

seedlingawakening verdant soil

you come to me

and I find myself alive

more alive than before my breaking


branching out

budding new life

green-leaved, open to the brilliance of your world

blossoming all around, many-hued flowers

fragrant with the nectar of life

Sensing you as alive, real, and full of love

as my stretching form is full of life-giving sap


And I know, I know in that moment

fragrant and ripening in 12-fold fruit

tree of knowledgeYou never abandoned me

when broken open, I was never alone

and in the terror of the darkening night

you had not turned upon me

rather what wrought horror upon me

was you medicine to make me whole


unless the seed is buried in the ground

and dies

new life can never come


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