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Nearly every morning I park my old white truck beneath the thick solid limbs of a large Live Oak in front of Webb Hall where my office is on the grounds of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home. Most mornings I arrive early enough that my favorite spot beneath the huge old oak is available.
I love the old oak for many reasons. Some mornings it reminds me of all the Home’s history which has transpired since the old tree was merely an acorn. Great things do come from small potential. I enjoy walking beneath the tree’s large canopy and looking up into how huge an expanse of sky it hides with shade.
I like the birds, the squirrels, the bug life, the butterflies, the critters that make their lives in the old oak tree. Once I watched a Magnolia struggle to grow for three years from seed to skinny twig in the natural compost collected in the fork of two huge branches. It did not make it.
But some things live where others cannot. Some are survivors. Most of the tree’s old limbs are covered by Resurrection fern.
Resurrection fern is aptly named. It’s a wonderful fern that dries up and almost disappears during a dry spell, especially in the heat of Summer. In a drought, the Resurrection fern curls up its little leaves, gives up its green color and looks dead. It’s so gone, so brown, that it blends into the colors of the oak tree’s trunk.
When the drought ends, when the dry spell is over, Resurrection fern does as its name implies and rushes back to life! As fresh rain falls on it, the fronds unfurl and open up again. A lively green returns to the open, lush fronds and the thick limbs of the old Live Oak come to life, covered in vivid green.
By one estimate, Resurrection fern can endure 100 years of drought and dessication yet still come back to life after a single rain.
The Resurrection fern I see every morning on the old Oak is an excellent daily metaphor for the Home. Our work is about resurrecting. What we do is all about life!
I see the green Resurrection fern after a rain and I am reminded of possibilities for our children. Many of our kids have parched souls dessicated by an interior drought wrought by the trauma they have experienced. They are too young to know it yet, but one day their fresh rain will come. Their hearts will resurrect with life. As young adults they will laugh. As they age, they will experience life with its vivid green fronds.
The Resurrection fern reminds me, too, of the Home’s long history and the ebb and flow of resources we have experienced through the decades. Growing as it does on the solid foundation of an old Oak tree, the Resurrection fern endures what comes – drought or drenching – and grows when it can. It represents potential during drought and gives evidence of what is positive after a fresh rain.
Each time I see the Resurrection fern take advantage of a little rain, the whole concept of doing much with just what you need comes to mind. Sooner or later, rain always comes. Every child living with inner pain that feels like death has the potential for new life. You see, the lessons of the Resurrection fern I see each morning are rich. The little ferns growing forever on ancient oaks are a natural inspiration for me.
When you next see the green of the Resurrection fern on a tree near you – they thrive on Live Oaks and Pecan trees – think of the Home. I sure do.
Rick Wheat, President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services