I see it standing there, roots anchored to soil and dirt.
When we first moved to this house in 2014, it was still a baby maple, maybe just 15 feet tall. Eight years later, it’s more than doubled in size. When the weather app shows me that it’s at least 70 degrees outside, we’ll drag our hammock from the shed to swing and sway beneath its green canopy of rustling leaves.
I’ll worry about the squirrels jumping from branch to branch, convinced they’re plotting my demise. I’ll cover my face with my hands, a foolish shield against the birds perched overhead. I am at their mercy, and they know it.
But the tree will still my panic, singing its quiet song over me – a melody designed to be felt more than it is heard.
I hear it speak to me, through its tangled art of blue sky and wispy branch.
I have felt frozen, muted in a world where I cannot exist apart from my words. I have climbed all my proverbial mountains and have been sheltered in a valley – quiet and observant and hidden away. It has been good and sweet, but I am ready to pack up camp and move forward. I am not a settler, after all. I am a pioneer.
I feel this in my bones, but my compass has refused to budge. There is no GPS. No signal to move forward. No mapped out, step-by-step directions.
Some would call this trapped.
But I think it’s something less sordid.
And I am impatient.
I say this to the maple tree, as though it is some sort of metaphysical god who hears and listens and speaks.
Its branches are bare, red leaves swallowed by the frozen ground. Today, its bark looks nearly white as the almost-spring sun beckons it to awaken.
This tree has not moved in 8 years.
It bends and pulls in the wind.
It raises its hands, taunts the storms.
And when life all around it dies away, it joins in the mourning and strips itself bare – waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for spring to kiss life back into its roots.
It knows the ancient secret that I’m just discovering: When you surrender to the mass and the matter and the evolution of the universe, when you bend with the wind and stand in the storm, and when you chase patience in the season of cold and sleep and temporary death, life will always come.
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