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Tree Top God Sighting

By Pam Binder

Do you know that we walk among trees, in areas of Michigan, that lived during Biblical times? Michigan's southern lowlands are home to the Sycamore, a large and long-standing hardwood.

Since I’m not a tree hugger or even knowledgeable about plants and trees names and genus, I’m shocked that I taking such an interest in this one particular tree. During our walks near our Kalamazoo condo I draw my attention to the Sycamore’s size and lateral-thick-branches. A typical Michigan hardwood has diagonal branches that have a hard time withstanding heavy snow loads and gale force winds. My first sighting of these spectacular trees was right after this year’s late winter ice-storm that destroyed countless numbers of other hardwoods in Kalamazoo.

My curiosity took me to internet. The sources describe Michigan Sycamore’s with patchy bark, maple-like leaves, and spiny seed balls. They resemble White Birch trees on steroids; they are so large! These trees can grow up to 75-120 feet with a canopy spread of the same footage and have a trunk diameter of 30-40 feet. They survive for up to 500 years. I found nine Biblical references to Sycamore in my online search. For instance, in Luke 19-4 Zacchaeus climbs a Sycamore to see Jesus. Those horizontal branches enabled Zacchaeus to gain such a view! There is a claim that Mary and Joseph sought protection from the elements under a Sycamore tree. Another source describes a Sycamore-miracle that occurred outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in New York on Sept. 11, 2001 attack. The tree saved the cathedral from destruction, allowing it to be used as refuge for the survivors. The Sycamore is also known to absorb air pollutants and its bark is used as a medicinal tea.

This sighting of God’s presence is so exciting and enlightening that I am moved to give a Sycamore tree a hug. Guess these gentle-giants will have to settle for a loving pat. Since my arms lack length, I won’t be tree-hugging a Sycamore!


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