We bought the tree with the money I made when I baptized Stan, who had nineteen confirmed kills in Viet Nam. He’s an old man now, in a wheelchair, shriveled and pale, and he wanted to be cleansed of his sins. “I’ve been in hell,” he told me, “and I want to be free,” and though he couldn’t talk much, and could hardly move, when I started to pour the water on his head, and I began to say the words—“I baptize you in the name of the Father”—“and of the Son,” he said, “and of the Holy Spirit,” and the water dribbled down his face and dripped off his chin, wetting the front of his pale, checked shirt.
We planted the tree on a fine spring day. The earth was soft and warm. We dug the hole, scored the matted roots, and gently set it in, then filled the hole with amended soil and watered, thoroughly, soaking the ground until the bed had turned to mud.
It’s a pretty tree. A Paper Bark Maple, they call it, because the bark peels off in curly strips almost smooth enough to write on.
from Light When It Comes: Trusting Joy, Facing Darkness, and Seeing God in Everything (Eerdmans 2016)