Two heart tree sketch
The grounds of the mission church are quiet save for the tolling bells and scolding chatter of squirrels. A cool breeze off the river made me glad I brought my coat. Still, the sun on my face is kind.
During breakfast I decided to come here, return to sketch this tree. Most people don’t even know it exists. It’s one of several trees in St. Augustine locally called love trees. One type of tree growing from the heart of another kind, and joined as one. Somehow, through all the storms, they’ve tenaciously remained together. For me, it symbolizes a solid, symbiotic human relationship. Two beings, each with separate identities becoming united as one, as in marriage.
I start drawing the place where the two trees merge. Trees are sacred, depicted in art throughout the ages as symbols of the divine, as—
“You can’t ride your bike on the path,”a man hollers, disrupting my thoughts.
A stylish woman dressed in white from shoes to scarf and hat, gets off her bike, “and whom are you?”
“I work here,” he replies.
“Well than, if you work here, than I will listen to you.”
He walks by me, shaking his head. “Did you hear that—if you work here.”
Returning to the serenity of my sketch, I complete it and turn to focus on this chapel at the end of the path. On my last visit, a clouded sky cast a quiet atmosphere over the landscape. But the day was filled with a happy light. An intimate wedding ceremony was taking place in this chapel. Candle flames danced in the dim interior, while a priest sang incantations over the wedding couple. A friendly nun in a blue habit guarded the the entry.
The idea of an ancient ceremony in a small chapel nestled in a natural setting appeals to my romantic senses. My imagination drifts to an island, dreaming of a chapel under palms by a tropical sea at twilight.
I begin sketching the cross and pencil my way over the ivy and down to the flower pots. A young couple pause to talk, Justin and Jennifer, a missionary couple from Georgia. Glancing at my sketch, they feel compelled to pray over me. Your name drifts across their lips. Or is it only the wind?
Happy children tugging their parents along, point at my drawing and exclaim, “look mommy!”
The chapel was first erected in 1618 on this site. This is the fourth, built in 1918. Set along the green, marsh grasses of the river, among these ancient oaks and swaying palms, the old chapel gave the wedding a mystical, timeless feel. With the same rituals, it could have been a marriage ceremony four hundred years ago.
The sun is growing hotter and slipping off my coat, I realize I’ve been wearing it inside out. No wonder I didn’t see any paint on it. Where is my keeper?
Strollers stop to look at my drawing. A young mother cradling a baby with one arm, reaches out with the other and touches my shoulder. “You are a very good drawer.” And apparently not a very good dresser.
A blessed feeling floods over me, from the missionary couple, the young mother and sunshine, and a mystifying Saturday memory.
This tree, this chapel wedding, these marriages of differences. Strip everything away in the world, all that fades in time. At life’s core it all comes down to this—down to the heart of the matter. Two beings in billions finding each other and becoming one beautiful thing.
Random biology? Or a miracle?
I know which side I stand on.