Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Pine Trees

The pine trees are gone; cut out several weekends ago. They've been looking sickly for several years now. No pine needles on the bottom half and some of the higher branches dead and brown. Over the years my husband, B, asked me several times to schedule an appointment to remove them. Somehow I just couldn't do it. Although diseased, these old things are somehow a comfort to me.

The morning they came, B and I went to Starbucks for coffee. When we pulled into our driveway we saw the ladder propped up against the tree and several large branches on the ground. As I gathered my things from the car, I felt a lump of sadness in my gut and my eyes started watering. I pushed these "silly" tears away and got out of the car.

On and off for the next few hours we watched their progress. My "silly" tears continued to occupy my gut.

These past weeks have been especially difficult. I'm feeling stretched at work...new topic, new technology, and using skills that expose my weaknesses. Also, I've been facing decades old emotional wounds...the kind you shove into a closet and lock up tight.

I recently discovered that my faith teaches me to face painful wounds. It's part of the healing process. I decided to open the locked door. I acknowledged the hurt as real and legitimate. I've been grieving and at times find myself weeping. In these moments I've found truth in the Psalmists words, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

These old wounds are infected just like my pine trees. It's time to face this fact. I'm treating them; no longer practicing denial. Oddly enough, I'm discovering that as I uncover and "look them in the face", they are loosening their gripe over me. I'm seeing them for what they are, nothing more and nothing less.

The trees and stumps are now gone. Initially the area felt bare and empty. Today it feels open and free. I'm getting used to it. I actually kind of like it and suspect our big healthy maple tree will like the additional space to spread its beautiful canopy.

* * *

(Updated:  Here is a followup post I wrote 18 months later.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

A Tear of Joy

I was planning to replace my last entry with rewritten text, but something within my soul said, "No. Keep writing. Don't sensor." So here is the replacement text, but as a new entry.

* * *

Sometimes when I look at my animals a tear forms in my heart and every so often it makes its way down my cheek. Not a tear of sorrow, but a tear of joy. Joy that my cats, my dogs and their humans (three species no less) live peaceable under the same roof...well most of the time.

Frederick Buechner talks about this "tear of joy" in his book The Longing for Home. He recounts an experience with his wife and daughter when they "caught a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom". The experience that elicited their tears was at Sea World (of all places). He describes it this way:

The way the show began was that at a given signal they released into the tank five or six killer whales... [They] went racing around and around in circles. What with the dazzle of sky and sun, the beautiful young people on the platform, the soft southern air, and the crowds all around us watching the performance with a delight matched only by what seemed the delight of the performing whales, it was as if the whole creation -- men and women and beasts and sun and water and earth and sky and, for all I know, God himself -- was caught up in one great, jubilant dance of unimaginable beauty.

For a few moments we had seen and been part of the great dance that goes on at the heart of creation. We shed tears because we were given a glimpse of the way life was created to be and is not. We had seen why it was that "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the world was first made. (Buechner 1996, 126-127).


I, too, have gazed upon this dance between human and killer whale, and quite unexpectedly my eyes filled with tears in the same way Buechner describes. At the time I didn't ponder the meaning, but drank the goodness of the moment. It was a glimpse of something delicate and beautiful, something good.