“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. “

~Martin Luther

I recently came across this expression of the Reformer Martin Luther, who 500 years ago, shy only by 3 months, tacked up in public a list of declarations born of his illumination by Scripture on living by grace in Christ, in a place far from New Hampshire, in a very distinct time and culture from mine. He hoped in Christ, and clearly loved his apple trees, and, most likely, apples. An apple tree planted as living sign of that hope, an affirmation of his own, human, life. His thought touched me.

Not surprisingly, I thought of my own love of apple trees, born from my childhood experiences with them in New England–I used to climb into one great old one to read*– their beautiful shapes, their much-loved life cycle, and their crispy fruit, thought on planting them as emblems of passionate engagement with life and home, of affirmation and Christ’s hope, embracing even life’s perennial entwinement with loss.

And thought of one of my expressions about apples. I wrote this just as my dear John and I, newly married, were moving into our present home in New Hampshire, with all it held of joy and anticipation, love and life together, and pathos.

 

Plantings

Because of a tree not planted yet, yet in a new love with you, already rooted,

I am writing the poem that must be written. How long did you say

It would be before a new apple bears, when I said I wanted apples in the yard of our own house that is not yet ours—

Longer than we might still live? Our own lifeseasons head into winter.

And forsythia, I had said, and lilacs. How many years would pass before we had our own

Lilacs to tumble over heavy crystal vases on our dark table?  Forsythia

Takes three years to blossom, just as the eyes are about to despair

Of the sight of yellow after you’ve planted it.

And grapes. Concords, my archetypal New England Concords,

Vines covered with larger and larger serrated leaves trained on their trellis, season to season, with no fruit for five long years.

Taking whatever shade we could those years waiting by tulips, iris, herbs, and daffodils sprinkled through violets from blithe spirits there before us,

One of us could be gone. Red and yellow apples and fluffy lilacs could elude our eating and smelling together. Perhaps the blood of the eventual grape

Would flow unstoppably into the devastated tears of the one left behind.

Let’s plant apples anyway, plant grapevines and forsythia, Love. We’ll plant

And water apples

Anyway.

For John                    July 2009

Deanna Harrington Christiansen 

[All Rights Reserved]

 

You may read more about “Plantings”, the book, and the companion music CD “Plantings” by composer and publisher Glen Aubrey , at www.deannachristiansen.com!  *And imagine how I climbed into the big apple tree to read in the poem about the library, “An Honorable Dust”, in “Notes On a Flight Home”.  Perhaps obtain copies for yourself.

Our apple trees here fruited in their first year, as we purchased them somewhat matured– analogous, come to think of it, to our love and marriage in our mid-sixties. This is our tenth season, and the apple trees’ third. Thanks be to God. We planted and watered as “our own lifeseasons headed into winter.”

Plant. Plant and water, anyway.

Deanna

 

Copyright "Plantings, in Poetry, Essay, and Song",  
Creative Team publishing, San Diego, 2016

All Rights Reserved

  6 comments for “” …I would still plant my apple tree.”

  1. MJ Speed
    July 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Dear Deanna, How very fitting and identifiable from where I stand. With nothing in the exchequer, I begged and borrowed cuttings from any others who would, could spare them. The bare backyard became a feathery, greened bower with castoff patio cover from neighbor to shade my fern gallery and other delicate plantings. In only a few years, the brown gave way to only green…and all from His Hands..barely anything from mine….:-) Wish I had planted that apple tree AND Avocado tree so many years ago….
    Will have to do(nicely) with my citrus 🙂
    Thank you again for sharing your musings as He has led you so wonderfully over the years.
    Keep looking up!
    Marilyn 🙂

  2. SANDY
    July 14, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    AS I APPROACH MY 90TH BIRTHDAY THIS NOVEMBER, DEANNA, I ESPECIALLY APPRECIATE THIS LOVELY RENDITION OF TIME AND LOVE. I WAS GIVEN A PLUMERIA CUTTING LAST YEAR AND DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE IT FLOWER LET ALONE FULL GROWN. BUT AM SEEING BUDS ON THE BRANCH AND LOOKING FORWARD TO A LITTLE PLUMERIA IF NOT A FULL GROWN ONE. YES WE CONTINUE TO PLANT AND WATER. WELL DONE MY FRIEND.

    • July 16, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      I appreciate your warm and creative responses, Sandy. And did you ever think you would be granted at least 90 years!
      God’s abundant life on many levels. Could you send a picture of the plumeria? Love to you, always, Deanna

  3. Beth
    July 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Beautiful Aunt Deanna!

  4. Charles Smith
    July 14, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    DeAnna: Bethel grad, was not Luther’s courageous act performed on that wooden door 500 years ago this year? I’ve been retreading a volume on Martin – what a man he was! All is well.

    • July 14, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Well noted, Pastor Charles! And corrected. Good to hear of your travels. Guess I am stronger on theology than arithmetic, hopefully, Deanna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

css.php