“Plant some shrubbery,” my friend Tina said, as she waited for her teriyaki bowl.
I’d just told her how fragile I felt, how that morning I’d already been tearful about a loved one’s health situation when the tree guy knocked loud on our front door. How he led me across the lawn, pointing to where the power line to our house rested against a birch tree. Worse, a deep fissure ran down from the place where the tree forks, exposing orange tree flesh.
“If we don’t take it down, it’s gonna fall,” tree guy said, and handed me his phone number.
The tree must go.
It struck me hard. Not another tree, not now, not today.
You see, I’m still adjusting to the four trees we had to say goodbye to when the neighbor’s gargantuan ponderosa went roots-up during last month’s windstorm and landed on our roof with a whack. These lovely old trees have always offered us a measure of privacy from passing traffic, a stunning show of golden leaves in the fall, a home to northern flickers, bluejays, and woodpeckers, a world of enchantment for wildlife.
The sixty-foot birch in question holds our swing in the sunny months, as you can see above, and stands in just the perfect spot for tethering our volleyball net. She’s a beauty.
But sometimes the tree must go, and there isn’t a dippity-darn thing you can do about it. Sometimes we mourn the silliest losses, like when our favorite jeans rip. Yet other times, we watch as a deeply precious thing drops in chunks to the ground. Sometimes a chainsaw slices our hopes, and sawdust drifts down like snow.
Even the good gifts have expiration dates. And eventually . . . We. Gotta. Let. It. Go.
We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:18
Year after year, I have to again come to terms with this constant state of mourning, the letting go of things I’ve come to love but never own.
Even a tree.
We’ve gotta have a strategy for releasing things we have little-to-no control over, like a loved one’s health or a child’s choices.
A crew showed up this morning toting saws of all lengths and reduced our statuesque birch to a stack of logs. Then came another knock on the door. Tree guy showed my hubby another tree that must go; it’s rotting from the inside out. (Oh hey, no wonder birds like to nest in it!) Hubby inspected the tree and gave me a look. I knew resisting made about as much sense as trying to clutch a fist full of the ocean.
So I made an exchange with Jesus. I visualized myself walking toward him with my arms outstretched, carrying my sadness and frustration—oh, friend, it was a heavy load; it wasn’t just about the tree. As I got closer to his face, I saw eyes filled with empathy, kind eyes welcoming me, offering peace in exchange for my load.
His smiling eyes told me this: “Child, you are mine. You are complete. It’s enough.”
I can do just about anything when I look into that face. In his presence, I can let things go. And I never, ever come away empty-handed.
So I’m in the market for some shrubbery now. (How very Jane Austen!) On the other hand, now I look out from my desk to a yard that’s open wide, broad and green, and my eyes are newly drawn to the up and beyond. To gaze at the mountains. To take the longer view.
How about you? Is there something you’re clutching lately, something you need to let go?
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~James 1:17