In my previous post, I spoke of some of the adventures we had in Tillamook County, Oregon several years ago. I did not include one of the most interesting aspects of our visit, specifically it was having the opportunity to get up close and personal with The Octopus Tree.
This tree is located just a few hundred feet from the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It is a massive Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) that has multiple monikers, including: The Monstrosity Tree, The Candelabra Tree, The Council Tree and The Octopus Tree.
The tree is certainly not hard to miss – it has a 50 foot base, it reaches upward over 100 feet. Its most incredible characteristic, however, is that it has no central trunk! Instead of growing straight up from the trunk, the limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning heavenward. This gives it the appearance of an inverted octopus.
It is impossible to determine the tree’s actual age because, to do that, we would need to cut it down and examine the rings. No sense in destroying such an incredible living thing simply for that purpose. But, it is believed to be 250 to 300 years old, which would date the tree at the time when the Native American Indians lived in the area. In support of this theory, rumors exist that the Octopus Tree got its shape from being used to hold their canoes with their dead in them. In other words, it is believed that the tree was a sort of burial site or a site used for sacred purposes.
The tree’s limbs towering overhead are beautiful in their strength and dignity. It would appear that the tree is thriving, notwithstanding its unique formation at the base.
For more information I would encourage you to look at the following websites provide a great deal more information about Tillamook County, Oregon. I would then encourage you to visit the area itself.
Beside from being an interesting place to visit, what does the Octopus Tree have to do with me? Or with you?
The Octopus Tree provides us with an example of God’s creation extolling His greatness, even if distorted or disfigured through time or by the acts of others.
Paul says this about the condition of His creation after sin entered and broke the relationship between the creation and the Creator:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
Romans 8:19-22 ESV
When sin entered the world, everything changed. Instead of love reigning and instead of walking in fellowship with God, mankind now spoke of hate and walked in opposition to His Creator. That continues even to this day. A brief look at the news headlines confirms that the world is in the grips of sin and that evil rules almost without opposition.
How many of us have been abused as children; have been in destructive relationships; have been addicted to drugs or alcohol or have endured any of a multitude of other addictions? How many of us have been in poverty, have been hungry, have been sick and hospitalized? How many of us have been subjected to these conditions because of the actions of others?
That is the story of The Octopus Tree. It was misshapen and became a tree unlike any of those surrounding it in the forest. Whether forces of nature changed the tree’s shape or whether it was the result of being used in some sort of religious rite, the result was disfiguring of the beautiful tree. But it still stands, growing in God’s sunshine, honoring the Creator by reaching to the heavens.
So to, when we have been subjected to hard times, trials and the evils in our world, we may well become misshapen, scarred, and have hurts that are too deep to even mention to our loved ones. We know they are there nonetheless. No matter what has happened to and/or through us, we can still stand in the grace and power of our God. We can honor our Creator by looking to Him, reading His Word, surrendering our will to Him and living for Him as guided by the Holy Spirit. We can grow in His Son-shine, the Light of the world, Who shines on us and infuses His light into us so that we then can brighten the darkness we find around us.
You can be The Octopus Tree in your neighborhood. If you are misshapen and scarred, that adds character and strength to your witness of God’s goodness, love, mercy and grace. Share your witness and the Word with those around you – God will use it for His purposes, you can be assured of that!
By all means, if you are in Oregon, take time to visit Tillamook County. Open your eyes and open your heart and hear your Creator speak to you as you see the sights and hear the sounds around you, both in Oregon and wherever you call home.
Father, I pray that You would empower me as I live my life, scarred and misshapen though I am. I pray that I would bring You honor and glory and that Your Word would be on my tongue as I spread Your truth to others.