“I’d rather be a tree than a tumbleweed”


In their 1970 song “El Condor Pasa,” Simon and Garfunkel sang about rather being a sparrow than a snail, or a hammer than a nail.  In the last verse they sang,

I’d rather be a forest than a street
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would
I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would

The song is based upon the simple facts that some existences are better than others. In the book of Jeremiah we find the existences of a tumbleweed and a tree placed before us for the purpose of showing us that a life that is based on trusting God is better than a life based on trusting in human resources.

5-6 God’s Message:

“Cursed is the strong one
who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone
and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie,
out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless
in a land where nothing grows.

7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.

Jeremiah 17:5-8; The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

The text in Jeremiah, using the pictorial imagery of a tumbleweed and a tree, provides an interesting meditation on two different ways of life. It is easy to see that if Simon and Garfunkel had used this imagery in their song, they would have said,

I’d rather be a tree than a tumbleweed

The message here, from a purely human perspective, is counterintuitive. We believe that we need to make our life based on our own resources, but the result is “a tumbleweed existence,” without root or sustenance, blown without direction in a barren wasteland.

But if we trust God’s resources, the result is “the tree existence,” as if replanted in Eden, rooted near the rivers, nourished and sustained through unrelenting heat yet bearing fruit every season.

There is no comparison!


Comments, questions, critiques are always welcome. Thank you!

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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