I had never noticed that tamarack and cypress trees have needles (like evergreens) but they lose their green colour and fall off in the autumn. I admitted that out loud and an old Cape Breton fisher told me, “that’s because we used to cut tamarack trees down when they were young and flexible.” Apparently, they were used to firm up the semi-circular shape of the traditional wooden lobster trap. The wood also endured over time because it tended not to rot when exposed to saltwater. Black spruce was also used, and for the same reason.
I imagined that people made lobster traps out of various kinds of wood before realizing the effectiveness of tamarack and black spruce.
There are lots of dire predictions about the future of our Church in Canada, including that there won’t be a Church in 20 years. I’ve been around long enough to remember the equally dire predictions from 35 years ago. I don’t mean to suggest that we can therefore ignore the current warnings. Quite the contrary, I take these warnings as seriously as I took them years ago.
I think there’s a lesson for us in the lobster pot: We need to show the creativity that accompanies flexibility and use material that doesn’t rot, like our “memory, reason and skill.”
The old lobster trap is a pretty straight forward tool, that is tried and true. So too is the Gospel imperative to love our neighbours. Love is the tamarack wood that is flexible and strong, quick and enduring.
If we do nothing differently the predictions will come true. If we love, I mean really love our neighbours as ourselves, and God with our whole being, we will continue to be a vital expression of God’s love in the year 2040, and 2140, and 2240...
The possibilities for God’s Church are exciting and endless.