8/2/08

The Miles Tree

When Miles was born we planted a new little tree in our front yard. That little tree has been so resilient. It takes a lot for a new tree to make it here in Minnesota. If it's not winter, covering the earth with ice and snow, it's not raining enough. So new little trees need a whole lot of love and attention to survive.

This particular tree did not receive it's much needed love and attention however. And yet, there it is, sprouting new leaves each spring, bright with green. I often look at it and wonder how it's pulling off growing up.

Because of it's resiliency, that little "Miles Tree," planted in honor of birth, didn't give up to the curse of the crazy dog and her chain. Last summer our dog, Tia would occasionally be hooked up out front rather than in our fenced backyard. Mostly because Ryan would be in the garage and she likes to be near him. But every time someone walked by with a dog, (or alone for that matter) Tia would run as fast as she could, back and forth across the front yard, barking her brains out. As she went, her chain would bend the tiny Miles Tree. To the left and down to the ground....To the right and down to the ground....Over and over. That poor tree's bark was even being shredded off it's tiny little trunk, victim to the antics of that crazy dog.

I would get so mad, watching from the window, calling out for Ryan to stop the madness and save the Miles Tree. After a while I gave up, figuring the poor tree would never make it. I stopped going to the window. Stopped trying to save the little tree from doggy demise.

Today I smiled as I watered that resilient little tree. We don't ever let Tia out in the front anymore. Mostly to keep the poop clean-up to only one yard, the back. What's funny is that it's as if the little Miles Tree is laughing in the face of a dog's rampages and winter's frozen punishment. That resilient little tree is thriving with life.

But it looks nothing like the tree it was planted to be. The leaves start at it's very base. There are a number of outgrowths pouring from it's small trunk, rather than starting a bit higher, like most trees. The Miles Tree looks a bit odd, but it's alive and well.

I got to thinking about my own life. The ways I've been pummeled by my own mistakes, or the harsh rampages of others. I thought about how I know the same will happen for my kids. Life tattering their once untainted dreams and values. I guess we all come out, as the years fly by, looking a bit unlike what we may have dreamed we would become. But we have our own little branches and twigs, places of flourishing despite the hard knocks. Places that are ours alone and make us who we are. We may be quirky and strange to an on-looker, full of faults, but we're thriving. We spring to life often, despite our circumstances. We are as resilient as the Miles Tree, fighting our way toward living.

My favorite thing about the Miles Tree is it's fullness near the ground. If not for the cuts and scrapes, it wouldn't be so full there. It was split in different ways, barely surviving. There were times when Tia's chain had it all ripped up, down to the very base of it's trunk. But it would fight back, making the areas of it's own wreckage into new vines and branches thick with leaves. The places of new life grew closer and closer to their source, the roots. It's as if every painful moment created a need to dig a little deeper, draw nearer to the very place where it's life begins.

What matters is not that we end up perfectly shaped, but that we are of any shape at all. Our appearance, the ways that we thrive, show the story of who we are. Our trunks are rooted deeply in the soil and water of grace and mercy; the ever-present reality of all things working together for good.

The Miles Tree is a reminder to me. A reminder to never watch from the window and give up on my boys. Never to shake my head and assume that they're not going to make it in the face of the dog chains of life. It is a reminder to smile and remember that every experience, good or bad, will shape them into being exactly who they were made to be. No, not perfect. But flourishing and possibly becoming even more beautiful than they may have been without the trials. Trials that will re-shape them and make them more fully alive.

I pray that Miles and Asher will learn to see life this way too. That they won't grow jaded and give up when they're hurt. But will spring back, thriving and surprising the harsh world around them.

6 clicked right here to comment:

Becky said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Not to beat the metaphor to death, but lately I've been feeling like I want to be a palm tree, a willow tree, or anything prettier or showier than the tree I am. I'll try harder to appreciate my own unique treeness. :)

charrette said...

I love your tree metaphor. It speaks to children's resilience, and our own. I went through something truly harrowing once, and confided in a good friend, "that's it -- I'm broken." That Christmas she gave me a pot of rocks with PaperWhite bulbs for Christmas that year. As I watched them shoot up, I realized she was sending me a metaphor...that such beauty can grow out of amazing adversity, against all odds.

That same year my mother-in-law gave me a pair of diamond earrings. One made from her own wedding diamond, the other from her mother's. An amazing gift. I wept.

The message? Maybe I wasn't broken after all. Maybe, like a diamond, I was being carefully CUT.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

There are so many teachable moments I've reflected on just looking at a tree. There is so much value in there, just as you've discovered in your own heart. Beautiful.

Steph

Sabrina said...

You say it so well. I was touched.
BTW, Smokin' hot profile pic! PRETTY!

Kimberly said...

What a beautiful analogy!

MommyTime said...

This is a lovely post. We planted a tree for our son when he was born too. We haven't found the perfect one yet for our daughter, though we intend to. But I never thought about it in such metaphoric terms before. Thanks for the thoughtfulness.

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