By Pastor Tommy Rush, First Baptist Church

It is always nice to have a good shade tree on a hot summer day. Two weeks ago I officiated a wedding ceremony for my youngest niece in Augusta, Georgia. It was an outdoor wedding and it took place at 4:00 p.m. I’ve officiated many outdoor weddings over the years, but when the photographer tells you he needs to find a place to keep his camera and video equipment cool, you know it’s hot.

Following the ceremony, the coats and ties came off and everyone in attendance began looking for a good shade tree. It was really a beautiful wedding, but it may have set the record for hottest of all time! During the ceremony the Wedding director made sure we maintained social distancing guidelines but I’m not too sure they were observed as we crowded under the shade tree to find some relief from the sun.

After the wedding, we traveled to Virginia to visit family. My wife and I took our grandchildren to Colonial Williamsburg on a day that the local meteorologist described as the hottest day on record for the area. It was a bit funny when the guide began telling me about the “Tall Treasures” of Williamsburg. He explained how the trees were native to the area but most of them had been planted much later than the original colony period. The Colonists actually cut most of the trees down because they used the wood for carriage spokes, flooring, buckets, furniture, etc. He also informed us that many trees were cut down for open fields and crops. Then he said, “But praise the Lord in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s someone knew we would need some shade trees for today!”

The Compton Oak on Nicholson Street in Williamsburg is a massive tree. The Oak stands 70 feet tall and 97 feet wide; it’s trunk circumference is 14 feet. The tree is so massive that it is described as the coolest spot in town and it’s branches almost seem to invite you to take a break and sit awhile.

The reality is that most great shade trees were planted by someone who never enjoyed the blessing of sitting in its shade. It has been said that a good planter of shade trees is a person who is always focused on future generations. I’m not sure who actually planted the big oak, but my grandkids and I sure enjoyed the shade from it. Since returning home, I’ve had a desire to plant a few shade trees of my own. Even more, I hope my faith and love for family and friends will always be as inviting as the branches of that massive tree. How awesome it would be to have a home considered by others as a cool shade on a hot day. A home that seems to invite all who pass by to take a break and sit awhile!


  1. “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” -Greek Proverb

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