In The Shade Of The Tree

In The Shade Of The Tree

In The Shade Of The Tree 150 150 Don McCaleb

In the shade of the tree,
a man hung his head.
Together they tried to paint a still life,
but she picked the fruit
and they peeled back the skin.
Did we lose the taste of real life
while juice dripped down our chins?
In our chase for something more
we listened to the snake, and we ate
till we twisted the stem;
He loves us, He loves us not.
Could God still love us, after we got caught?
In our discontent,
we kept the curse and threw away the core.

The man prayed:
“Father, you made the best of us,
but we made a mess of us.
Now we’re ashamed of what’s left of us.
And we can’t live up to Your tree-turned-measuring-stick
or fix the feel of the fruit in our fists,
or the flavor of it, fresh against our lips,
the poison gift of a serpent’s kiss.
Now we can’t spit out the rooted bitterness
that we grew in the ground of your garden.”
He leaned his back against the tree and wept,
“How did this tree of Tree of Life become a tree of death?”

In the shade of the tree, a man hung his head,
and said: “Father, if there is any other way…
if you could take this vial of bitterness away,
find a better way
to rescue all who bent to betray your grace,
to save the broken and the beautiful,
the bereaved and the beat-up,
the burned-out and the brave.”

Sweat and blood dripped down
to the garden ground in Gethsemane
as He considered the coming kiss,
and the cost to heal humanity.
He leaned his back against the tree and pled
for the plight of the people
and the promised plan to purge the plague.  

In the shade of the tree, the man hung his head,
limbs stretched wide apart,
holes in his hands, his feet, his side
empty blood from a heart
that broke to mend creation—
to hold the damaged and the holy wholly together.
Crowd scorned, back scourged, flesh torn,
cruel thorns crowned his bowed brow
on this tree-turned-mocking-throne,
His agony the overture to a symphony of amnesty
that echoes through every soul’s destiny,
opening the curtain on eternity.
His life peeled back, like skin wounded and bruised
to reveal this glorious God
who died.

It was over at that moment.
THE moment…
the moment when justice and love collide,
the defiled overwhelmed by the divine,
despair overwritten by life.
Freedom overthrows fear,
inciting a revolution of Infinite peace,
bright hope overflows the narrow banks of hate,
innocence overturns guilt,
forgiveness overcomes shame,
light overtakes darkness
like the morning sun rising up from the ground
to overpower night.
Mercy and compassion unite
to dance on the grave of death.

In the shade of this tree, I hung my head.
Because I have traded the garden-life-dream
of this Christ king,
in exchange for lonely, rancid things.
But this risen God comes again to meet me,
underneath the now-empty cross,
and write my name in the dust and the mud,
flooded from the flow of beautiful blood,
below where he
leaned his back against the tree
and bled
for me…
Where this tree of death became a tree of life.

Captured live in 2013, at a Night of Worship setting. Cello by Mary Lindsay

All Content © Don McCaleb 2010-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Don McCaleb

Don is rapidly gaining recognition as a poet with an original voice and a powerful message. Through live performances and video, his poetry has sparked worship gatherings and conferences around the USA, as well is in England, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Ireland and more. Don has delivered his words live at festivals 30,000 people in attendance, but he’s just as glad to share in a quiet local church worship service. When he's not writing rhymes, Don is the Worship Arts Director at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs. The church is known for theological depth, inspired artistry, and serving those in need. He also creates, tells stories and asks questions through a variety of media. From video scripts and direction to digital art, Don is always seeking to draw people into the deeper, eternal story. His poetry videos feature the work of team members including videographer Jim Kallemeyn and VJ Liz Jarocki.

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