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In Isolation: March 30, “Young Apple Trees”

An introduction to this “In Isolation” blog series appears at the top of the March 22 post.

As I watch and listen to reports of the frightening spread of the virus, I am thinking about all the people whose tomorrow is filled with uncertainty. The quote in this illustration is arguably attributed to Martin Luther and was supposedly etched into the wall of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s prison cell. While these may be important touch points, what really matters to me is the message.

If any of us knew with certainty that today was our final day, how would we spend it? Would we have the selfless courage to ‘plant’ for a future we knew we would never see? Would we wallow in despair? I’m pretty sure I know how each of us would like to answer, but not at all certain if I believe many of us would have the courage to see hope in the face of hopelessness.

And yet, I have experienced the triumph of a dear friend who, forced to live in a body which she knew was on a downward spiral to inevitable death, managed to suck the marrow out of every single one of her remaining days. Lorraine and her husband, Clay, were tour managers for my final cross-Canada tour in 2012-13. She knew she was not well and, despite my pleadings (along with those of tour mates Lonnie and Christina) that she go home for her own comfort, she refused to stop until that 8-month tour was completed. Lorraine’s words to me late one night: “If I were to go home, I would just lie on the couch and feel sorry for myself. This tour is life-giving for me and I want to live every waking moment of it.”

All of us journeyed with Lorraine and her illness as together we traversed the grassroot communities of Canada from Newfoundland & Labrador to Vancouver Island. Time and again, the words from Walter Farquharson’s hymn text, “Young Apple Trees” were part of my thoughts. It would usually happen after a concert when I would head into Lorraine and Clay’s motorhome which they generously allowed me to use as a ‘green room’. I would change clothes and head back to the post-concert refreshment tables. On the way, I would see signs of young apple trees being planted all over the interior of the vehicle. It was clear that Lorraine was living every moment to its utmost.

Please consider reading Walter’s reflection (Comments About Song) which includes a wonderful story from his youth as well as his thoughts about how we live out these words.

Young apple trees of love I’d plant,
though this should be God’s day.
For apple trees set firm with hope,
the stance of faith display.

In times of change and times of doubt,
and times of crippling fear,
if we can live within God’s love,
we find our way made clear.

Today’s the day in which I live,
this breath is all that’s sure.
But acts of love and tender words:
Christ says that these endure.

For life we live in service free
and strength and love we spend,
these supersede the present time
and grace us to the end.

Words by Walter Farquharson
Copyright © 1974 by Walter Farquharson.
Administered by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, Illinois • USA