Parallels of Nature

The following is an excerpt from a currently out-of-print (but timeless) book called Love’s Meaning by Archibald Rutledge, which gives me yet another reason to like oak trees.  If you  haven’t read the book, you should.  It remains one of my favourite books  for a clear perspective on what it means to love others and to live a life of love reflective of God’s nature.

“Whenever I am in great doubt about some human question, I look into the realm of nature to see whether a parallel does not exist there, a similitude that suggests a solution. Here, for example, is a tiny brown acorn. In time it develops into a lush, green oak. The years pass; it towers higher, spreads more broadly, is stronger and more imposing, gives more shade and shelter. At length, after a thousand years, we see the massive trunk of a mighty live oak that has received its grace from the sun, its power from the storm. Standing in its cradle that will be its grave, it makes me think of the growth of true love: at first characterized by frailty, by beauty, by the charm of its symmetry; finally by its splendour, its might, its tolerance, its sense of peace and abiding glory. Love is even such a growth.

I remember seeing in my own woods a huge yellow pine, banded by the clambering grace of a yellow Jessamine. He represented might; and she, beauty and grace. He supported her, while she adorned him. Some years later a hurricane broke off the great pine twenty feet from the ground, leaving a ruin pregnable and sad. But still the Jessamine clung to him, covering his wounds with foliage and blossoms, as if to hide from foes his impotence. They made me think of husband and wife. For even so is love: proudest power is often upheld by the mystic and invincible power of love; and it crashes gloomily if that tender comfort ever is withdrawn.
As we become more mature, we begin to discover that love is not solitary, but is accompanied by her winsome companions, which are her true qualities: honour and self-sacrifice, valour and patience, reticence and modesty, patience and fidelity, nobility and generosity. When I see and hear young people blush and stammer when love is mentioned, I feel that they have not yet come to an understanding of its splendour. Love alone is capable of making people heroes and heroines.”

– Archibald Rutledge, excerpt from ‘Love’s Meaning’


  1. Hi Hannah!

    Thanks for the comment on my blog! I remember your other blog, and really like what you’ve done over here!

    I love this post, the analogy Rutledge uses to explain love is so perfect. It is so true that when we are at a loss to explain some spiritual feeling, like love, turning to God’s creation we may find He has placed there an example for us of who He is and how He relates to us. It reminds me of Luke 12:22-33, where Jesus uses examples of the Father’s care for His humbler creation – the sparrows and flowers, to illustrate His abiding care for us!

  2. Lauren –

    You are much welcome! 🙂 Thanks so much, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading.
    Yes, it is a beautiful analogy, and nature is a great place to look for examples of God’s love for us- especially magnified through the seasons.
    Thanks so much for making mention of that passage! It is a particular favourite of mine, and God has been bringing it to mind lately and putting it in my path to read and be reminded of again and again. 🙂

    Again, thanks for stopping by, and I can’t wait to see what new direction your blogging takes you!

    ~ Hannah

  3. I have read your post many times, since I sold my signed, first edition of Loves Meaning. I had to let it go out of the grief of love lost. Because it meant so much to me. But not to someone else. As a native South Carolinian I treasured all of the writings of Archibald Rutledge. I lived his writings before I ever read them. Again out of grief I gave away them all in hopes that they would touch someone’s life. Thank you for helping me to remember what is really important.

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