June 9th, 2012| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


My father, brother and sister-in-law, and I had the delight of visiting one of the prettiest places on the planet last month, Maui, all of us celebrating milestone birthdays and anniversaries.

We hung around and shopped and ate quite a bit in West Maui, in Lahaina. Lā hainā, in Hawaiian, means “cruel sun.”

Maybe it was because of the “cruel sun” that William Owen Smith (1848–1929), a lawyer from a family of American missionaries, planted a banyan tree on April 24, 1873. (Actually the reason for the planting appears to have been to mark the 50th anniversary of Christian missionary work in Lahaina.)

This is an unusual specimen of a tree.

Ficus benghalensis, the banyan tree (from the fig family), is a huge tree primarily found in the Indian subcontinent. It grows and grows and grows, by means of aerial roots that, once they reach the ground, themselves become huge woody trunks, which further propagate the tree. Old trees, such as the one in Lahaina, can thus become very extensive. This one covers almost an acre, with a dozen or more secondary root/trunks, each huge enough to be a tree on its own right.

“Banyan” comes from an Indian language (Gujarati), in which banya means “merchant.” The Portugese took the word and gave it to the tree under which merchants carried out their custom. The banyan is, BTW, the national tree of India. Also, Robinson Crusoe, in Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel, made his home in a banyan tree.

The Lahaina banyan was imported from India as an 8-foot high plant. Now, 139 years later, it is over 60 feet tall, and is one of the largest Indian Banyan trees in the world, and the largest in the U.S. (there is another notable banyan in the US, in Fort Myers, FL, planted by Thomas Edison that is 800-odd years old).

It is quite an impressive bit of flora.

No wonder, large and substantial trees have been used as metaphors in the Bible, usually comparing the righteous person’s solidity to some mighty tree, usually the cedars of Lebanon.

The righteous one will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the LORD,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green.
Psalm 92:12–14

The mark of fruitfulness.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7–8

The result of trust.
How blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
… his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1–3

The outcome of godliness.

I will be like the dew to Israel;
He will blossom like the lily,
And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
His shoots will sprout,
And his beauty will be like the olive tree
And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.
Hosea 14:5–6

The work of God.

Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2012 Homiletix  |  Blog theme by ThemeShift customized by Gurry Design  |  Full sitemap