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It’s All in the Chlorophyll

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and shouting.” Isaiah 35 1-2

Growing up in New York I found the first thing I noticed when landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport were the trees. Not just any trees, but the green trees. Green leaves, green stems, green trunks, and a green name: the palo verde tree. At the time I had no idea it was the state tree of Arizona but I knew it was special. It was love at first sight. When it came time to choose our first tree to plant at our house there was no choice. It was always going to be a palo verde. 

One year ago, June 2023, we planted our Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia x) in our western front yard where it would get ample afternoon sunlight. I took the time to set up a homemade drip irrigation system so we could water early in the morning and we learned how to properly prune to help it grow. 

Last summer was my first in Arizona. I often drove home asking myself how does anyone or anything live in 110+ degree weather, only to find that our palo verde grew while I wasn't looking. It grew and grew, like a crocus in the desert springing to life where it was difficult to imagine life itself.

But have you ever wondered why a palo verde is green? Me too! 

When I first fell in love with the state tree of Arizona I found out that sometimes it is easy being green. While normally a tree may perform photosynthesis and harness light energy through its leaves, the palo verde understood having all those leaves in 120 degree weather may not be the most efficient way to do business. Instead, the palo verde tree has the green chemical chlorophyll in its bark! How cool is that? 

When I look out my front window, take Jack on a walk, or come home from the church our palo verde offers me a daily reminder that God is at work in the desert, in the sandy soil, and in the unbearable heat. God is at work, and so am I.

As God brings the sun, I bring the pruning so the branches can grow big and strong. As God brings the rain, I bring the irrigation to train the roots to grow deep and reach the sinking Phoenix water table. As God brings the hummingbirds, I give thanks and plant more trees. 

This summer Pastor Peter will journey through his sabbatical, a generous gift you have given him and I give you thanks for supporting him and me in our growth as leaders. This summer we too have an opportunity to grow right here in the desert where God planted us, asking what we are called to do here and now as St. John’s Lutheran Church. This is an opportunity to look to the palo verde and give thanks, for God has equipped us to be the crocus in the desert, the palo verde in the heart of Glendale, where others may look and say “God is at work”. 

May you remember that Jesus loves you and so do I,

Pastor Dan

Photo of church doors locked with a chain and padlock


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