We had a tree at the end of our garden. The neighbour that lived in the house just across the footpath complained that the branches were scraping away the pebble-dash from the side of her house.
We didn't know any people that dealt with trees, but our pastor offered to round up a posse of enthusiastic man and hack away at the branches.
I can remember coming home from a hard day of endless battles with tiresome classes of hostile pupils, to a garden full of branches. The tree was cut down to a bare stump. There was nothing left to wave in the wind. It was like seeing a worshipper of God with amputated limbs. It was sad. I was angry.
I can't remember which emotion got the upper hand that afternoon. I didn't have the courage to tackle the pastor so I questioned a weaker man who had aided and abetted in the cruel murder of our beautiful tree.
"Why did you let him do it? Why didn't you stop him?"
The frightened man just shrugged his shoulders. It is not easy to stand firm against a torrent of enthusiasm like our church pastor.
The next few weeks were filled with doleful thoughts. Upper most in my mind was the need to move house. The only way the tree stump might be salvaged was if I mounted a few hanging baskets on it, but that was not what trees were designed to do. I could not wake up every morning, fling open the curtains, to be greeted with such a sad sight.
I cried relentlessly, mercilessly accusing my husband of employing an idiot to trim the tree.
Weeks, months and years went by and I was reconciled to the stump. I never moved. I never got around to putting hanging baskets on it. I know that I resented the tree next door, boasting as it scattered blossom on our lawn, and shed it's leaves on our path.
Then one afternoon, a friend, rushed into the house, grabbed my arm and dragged me out into the front garden.
"Look! Look! There is a shoot! You have got leaves!"
Sure enough, a tiny shoot, laden with a cluster of half a dozen leaves had pushed its way out of the stump. I hadn't been looking for signs of life. I hadn't noticed, but she had.
Was it six or seven years ago? I'm not counting. My tree is glorious. Neat and tidy and beautifully shaped, the strong branches wave in the wind and give their praise to the God of heaven, blossom and leaves falling like confetti on windy days.
God spoke to me about my tree. What makes something alive or not is not always about what is above the surface. Underneath the ground was a whole intricate root system that went deep. Inside the tree was a network of veins carrying sap through the plant. I couldn't see it but it was there. With the deep roots and the sap flowing the tree could not but help to push out branches.
I think we have all gone though times when things have been taken away. Friends leave and move the other side of the country. Sons and daughters leave to go to college or to get married. Elderly aunts and uncles depart this world for a life in heaven. Churches argue and members start looking for a new shepherd and another flock. Each time it happens, it is like a branch is lopped away. Sometimes it feels like we are left with a stump and we think about hanging baskets.
However, our roots go down deep and love is still flowing. New friends are made. Grandchildren are born. Life cannot help but push out new shoots.
Melanie, this is a great story. It is reminding me, of a perfectly innocent rose bush that I tried to kill a few years ago. Your article is a reminder to us that for the Christian, all things do work together for the good. God bless!
Apologies. When I pasted it from a document there was a minor hiccup that i would have picked up if I had read it properly and my attention had been fully on my work and not on the progress of Celtic Football Club in the UEFA Champions league match last night! Contrary to common opinion, this particular woman cannot do more than one thing at a time!
Oh my, oh my, oh my! I was just praying about my church... getting ready to got there even. The Lord had shown me for a very long time that the church was being pruned but that the pruning is done now. I look at the state it's been left in and think "pruned?" Thank you. Thank you for taking your time to write such a wonderful piece. We certainly serve a God who is always on time.
This is beautiful! So moving and poignant! I think I see a poem in it. Don't you? Just write it from your heart, like you did this piece, with lots of description--throw caution to the winds! Love, Roger