We were over to the Schill's home to get some Vanilla for Susie to take back with her to Utah. When they came out with the Vanilla Susie looked up and commented on the tree that was filled with Mistletoe. Sister Schill commented that it was taking over all of the tree. The life of that beautiful tree was being drained from it by the numerous mistletoe parasites that were slowly sucking the life giving sap from the limbs of the tree.

Sister Schill suggested that the mistletoe might make a story for me to write. I liked the idea because I have often seen many instances of where beautiful old trees have been completely strangled and killed by this deadly parasite.

It is ironic that the Mistletoe is a symbol for stealing a kiss. When this plant kisses the limb of a tree it attaches itself and begins to suck out the life giving Sap of the tree.

A few years ago I was concerned to see that Mistletoe was growing in some of our big old Maple trees that we had planted long ago on the bank of the ditch along the front of our lot. Year after year the tree struggled against the ever increasing load of Mistletoe that was sucking it life out. Finally the tree died and we had to cut it down and use the wood for fire wood. Of course when the tree died the mistletoe did not have anymore life giving nourishment so it died also. During it?s lifetime it sent out millions of spores into the air sending them out to look for food and a healthy host on which to attach itself.

Yagui and I found ourselves one evening in a cliffed up area of the Chuhuichupa River where the Black Canyon River joins its waters to the Chuhuichupa River. The water was running bank to bank and we were looking for a place big enough for a little camp. Right where the two rivers join we found a little place that was just what we were looking for. When we went over there we saw that there was a big oak tree there that had been completely covered with the entwining branches and shiny leaves of a huge Poison Ivy vine. The Poison Ivy had started as a tiny plant at the foot of the big Oak Tree. Taking advantage of the cool shade of the tree and the moisture from the near by river it grew rapidly and after many years it had completely entwined itself around every branch of the big oak tree. The trunk of the Poison Ivy was as big as my arm and it?s branches had embedded their little clinging roots into the tree as it wound itself around the branches of the oak clinging and strangling the huge oak tree to death. I thought at the time that the Ivy had used the oak selfishly clinging to it for support until finally the oak had died under the strangling shade of the Giant vine.

In comparison along the rivers of the Sierra Madre if you look carefully you can find a little gray plant attached to the lower branches of the trees that grow along the banks of the rivers. This little plant is called an Air Plant because it lives on the moisture and air along the rivers. It attaches itself to the lower limbs of the trees near the river and sends out it?s little gray needle like leaves and lives and grows without taking anything from the tree except It?s protection, support and shade. I have often broken off the little dry branch that the Air Plant was fastened to and brought them home and hung them up in the house where the plant lived for a long time. This little plant lives with out harming anything grateful for the protection of it?s host. In it?s way it adds to the beauty and variety of the place where it lives.

The Wild Grape is an example of both good and bad. It starts to grow in the shade and protection of a big tree. It sends it?s green branches and leaves up along the tree trunk and into the tree using the tree for support of it?s long runners. In the spring it puts on new leaves and flowers and puts on the little blue grapes that make such good Grape Jelly. The pioneers of the mountain colonies gathered these grapes to make a delicious jelly to supplement their sweets and as a change from the Molasses made from cane. Year after year the grape vine increases sending it?s branches throughout the tree. Thinking only of the wonderful support that it is receiving from it?s big neighbor. Fulfilling the measure of it?s creation and producing good fruit. In it?s rapid growth and mission of good it takes no thought for what is happening to the tree that is giving it support. The broad leaves of the grape soon shade the leaves of the host tree keeping out the rays of the sun that is so necessary for the tree?s life. Soon the tree is strangled to death in the shade of the beautiful grape vine.

A few years ago there was on our little ranch a Wild Cherry Tree that produced it?s little black cherries that are called in Spanish ?Capulin?. A Grape vine was growing up into the tree. The last time I went to the spot where the cherry tree was growing all I could see was the huge grape vine that was growing all over the Cherry Tree. When I went closer to look at the tree I found that it had been strangled to death by the grapevine.

Can these example be compared to some human relationships? Does it sometimes happen that one person leans so heavily on another that they are nearly strangled to death. I recall an example of the marriage where the husband under the guise of love and protection completely dominated his wife until she faded away and became almost insignificant and a mere shadow of her former self.

Also very common in our modern world there are those who like the Mistletoe live off from the labor and the fruits of others. Has the Government caused some of our people to become like the Mistletoe attaching themselves to live off the labors of others?

Satan has disguised some of his evils such as gambling and pornography or lying and stealing as something to be desired. If we let these evils grow around us and entwine themselves in our lives they can be as deadly to our spiritual lives as the Poison Ivy was to the great Oak Tree near the River or even as the Grape Vine strangling the life out of the Cherry Tree.

May we be considerate and kind and always mindful of the welfare of others. Serving others and considering what our actions will do to them. May we never let sin entwine itself into our lives and thus kill us spiritually.

May the Lord bless and keep you all during this new and wonderful year that is before us. May we choose to be happy. May we choose to be kind. May we learn to love others as ourselves.