A Crossing

We lost a tree to the drought — a big granddaddy of a pine. Who knows how long it stood watching as the world changed around it. But I’m watching men carry rounds of it out of my yard and into the chipper and I can’t help but feel sad.


What popped the seed from the cone, what heat? What soil was there and what rain? Did hands plant the seedling in that spot or did divine hands, like a magician weaving magic, cause the whirl and the settle and the dust and the rain and the firming and rounding and bursting that brought forth the shoot that felt around down and down for its roots and then pushed up and up to find the heat and the sun? What is the story behind this tree that stood guard over the yard, flanked the bench where I like to sit on a summer’s day?

The chain saw stops and I watch men carry stumps. These aren’t going in the chipper. They are too big. What does one do with the sawed up chunks of a large pine tree? There’s a part of me saying, “Save a piece, a momento” but why? I lived near it for 5 years and 5 years in the face of decades is nada. But should there be a memorial, a marker to say here lies the decaying roots of a good tree?

It takes 3 men to pull the trunk to the ground. It takes 2 men to pull a limb that has fallen in the neighbor’s tree.

It took 3 people to fill my son’s cavity this morning. A dentist and a hygienist and a mom holding hands and the TV playing in the background because distraction is a good thing when facing our scary things.

It feels like a passage this morning, another aging step. Little boy getting sealants on his molars, his permanent teeth, because they need to last a lifetime. And a lifetime of reaching branches to the sky is coming down. There should be a marking.

Because I watched tears in my brave boy’s eyes this morning as the first branches of the browning tree were sawed off. And I’m reminded of holding him, sobbing myself, shortly after he was born while the doctor performed a procedure and little boy exercised lungs that a few weeks earlier weren’t strong enough to support his life. It was an agony of waiting for those lungs to develop.

Tears in my boy’s eyes… they never get easier to see. And the mama’s heart says yes, this is good for you but I know it hurts now. And I want to cry out against the hurt, take it on myself. So I hold tighter to the little hand that daily fills my own more and more. It is the last little hand I have to hold? 7 years have passed since that moment and yet where did the time go? Oh the growing since then.

And when the next tree goes, where will we be?

There’s a hole in the skyline now. Perhaps the moon will shine more fully through now. Perhaps the birds will miss it, its branches. And its absence means a break in the sky highway of the squirrels as they jump and play from one tree to the next.1656006_10203514248114950_9002450591513174413_n

So, I’m writing it down because I don’t know when the next tree will die, when the next marking is coming. When the next grown up step is taken and when the next stop in growth will come.

It’s a holy crossing this morning, milestones, growing up and dying. It demands a reverence. Amen. And Amen.1800355_10203006224694682_61845596_n

Make Me a Bird

tumblr_mt5b1cmH0q1rbv0tfo1_500“Dear God, Make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here.” It’s my favorite part of the movie Forrest Gump. A young Jenny is hiding in a cornfield and she draws Forrest down onto his knees next to her and these are the words that frame the movie, these words and that feather floating in the bluest of skies. It resonates with me… the hiding in a cornfield. Been there, done that. Indiana has lots of cornfields and the one next to the house is just as good as any for getting lost in, for hiding in, for dreaming in. Because sometimes you just need to get away. And kneel. And dream that the tassels whispering in the wind are the soul-quenching love notes of a God who knows you and feels along with you the pain in your heart.


My kids have an unquenchable desire to fly. Little Miss is outgrowing her desire somewhat as age and experience jade her sense of limitless possibilities. But she spent a year or more in fairy wings and ballet tutus ever sure that one of these days those wings would find the magic necessary to lift her off the ground. And Camo Kid, well, he’s still in dragon wings and may never outgrow his desire. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up he says, “A fighter pilot.” Daily, he concocts plans for jet packs and flying ships and personal wings. And when Little Miss steps in with her “reality check,” I shush because really, who wants to live in a world where flight isn’t possible.


Maybe these kids inherited it from me. When they ask to add to our menagerie a pet bird, I am offended. Clip the wings? Cage the bird? Stop the flight? How inhumane. How anti-nature. Let the birds soar. Let the birds be free.


Hiking this morning, I was startled as I came around a bend in the path by a flock of pigeons rising out of an oak tree. The rising sun painted their breasts a peachy-pink and the blue morning sky accentuated their soaring outlines. I startled them. They startled me. And in that moment of watching their freedom, I uttered a prayer like Jenny’s. Dear God, make me fear-free like the birds. Help me to soar on wings like they do, above the fray, in the blue, with the rising sun touching wing-tip.unnamed-29 unnamed-27 unnamed-26 unnamed-31 unnamed-33 unnamed-30


And Jesus’ words in Matthew flashed across my mind: Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)


On the dawn of this new year, I look forward knowing that a year from now I won’t be the same person, living the same life. Things are going to happen. People, places, circumstances are going to change. And that knowledge brings with it fears. I don’t like the unknown anymore than the next guy… maybe even less.


And I touch my cross, the one that hangs from my neck, the one with these words: But those who wait on the Lord
 Shall renew their strength;
 They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
 They shall run and not be weary, 
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

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These life words. These words of prayer… Lord, make it so. Because I’m the man in Mark 9:24 crying out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” I want to believe that I am of more value than the birds in God’s economy. I want to believe that my running will be swift and stron, and that despite the pounding in my heart and brain, I will not faint.


I don’t need to fly far, far away. But I do need to fall on my knees and pray. Over and over again. Because in the praying that it be so, I will find my wings. Lord, let it be so. Help my unbelief.

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