I spent time over several summers at a dude ranch in Colorado. And every time I was there, I heard the soothing yet powerful sounds of the Middle St. Vrain River out my cabin window. The sounds of the river helped me feel safe and content. They helped me notice life. While I was at that dude ranch, I also spent the better part of every day riding horses. I rode on mountain trails, in beautiful valleys, and across many streams and rivers. Sometimes the horses would walk. And sometimes the horses would really RUN. There are few things that are as exhilarating as holding on to the reigns with one hand and to your hat with another as a horse lopes fast through a smooth, breezy mountain valley.
And there are also few things that cause the kind of lingering pain one feels after an all day horseback ride – walking, trotting, and running.
There are aspen trees along many of the mountain trails I’ve traveled. The taste of the aspen leaves is highly bitter. (It’s common to hear one who as tasted the bitter leaves let someone else discover the bitterness by saying, “Taste these leaves – they taste like root beer!” They don’t taste like root beer.) The aspen leaves also have pain relieving properties. The leaves contain salicin, a chemical that is very similar to aspirin. When one chews on the leaves, they get similar pain relief as that brought on by aspirin. It lasts longer, too.
The aspen tree, among many other things, is for the healing of the soreness of horseback riding.
The aspen tree isn’t the only one whose leaves have medicinal properties. In the Bible reading from Revelation 22:1-5, trees that are lined along the river of the water life have leaves that are for the healing of the nations.
I bet those leaves don’t even taste bitter. Can we have those trees now?