I sometimes want to be a tree. I want to blow in the breeze, feel the rain on my branches, shelter birds and squirrels, and grow roots deep and wide so that I am strong and resilient to whatever might want to take me down. I want to bend and grow without to-do lists and injustices. I want to be alive without suffering and guilt. But I am not a tree.
I am tired of being weighed down. I succumbed to the cold my husband came home with from a trip to California over a week ago. The shenanigans that we go through to not pass germs is a ridiculous parody and I am grateful that I unplugged Alexa, so Amazon was unable to hear my pleas for him not to touch anything. I told him to find another bedroom.
I am tired of the news. I am tired of hoping for change. The human condition is resistant to change.
I am tired of hope and growing older makes hope harder.
How does one become the roots of hope when Australia lost over five hundred million animals due to fires? What are we to feel when we see the Amazon forest being clear-cut? What is happening to the rings of trees? I feel like a tree with a sorrow-filled ring.
The world around me seems to be both exploding and imploding. The polarization and denigration of truth leave me isolated and confused. I don’t know whom to trust. Sometimes I don’t trust myself.
I have failed myself for not being more than I am. I have failed my husband in too many ways to count. I have failed my children, grandchildren, siblings and friends.
I wish I were a tree.
The trees around my home are swaying in the wind. The ones that are fifteen stories tall are majestic. They are the first things I see in the morning and the last things I see at night. If they went away, I think I would have to move. They have become a symbol of hope.
But that is not true for my friend of color. A tree for her is a reminder of the lynching terrorism designed to take away freedom and hope for an entire race of human beings. My Hispanic friend reminds me of the lynchings of ethnic Mexicans in Texas after the Mexican Revolution. I think of the many women who were burned at a tree stake because of the witch hunts during the 1700’s and 1800’s in our country. Trees mean many things to many people.
I know I should leap from my chair and read Jesus Calling. I know that. But it seems to do that right away would allow me to escape the depth of sorrow of being a human. My husband often says, we need to sit in “Saturday”. Meaning, Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but skip over the hell of Saturday.
It wasn’t our plan to be in the trenches of sexual abuse. It wasn’t. But it was a clear calling from, some might say, “the universe”, but I mean, Jesus. It wasn’t our plan to face the devastation of racial trauma. A friend gave us a book, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America. It exposed our misuse of the word terrorism. For us, terrorism began at 9/11 because we failed to see over four hundred years of domestic terrorism when we think of Native Americans and other non-white people groups. I wish I were a tree.
Once a person endeavors to look behind the curtain and see the reality of Oz, the illusion of “it’s all going to get better” is pretty hard to buy. I have looked behind the curtain, and I have read countless books a white woman should read and watched documentaries and movies about people of color and our history that remains as resistant to change as a 100 years ago. I wish I were a tree.
But I am not a tree. I will lament with those who see behind the curtain. I will own the privilege I have. I will use my voice to speak on others’ behalf. I will do this and do it miserably. There is no way to do it right. I will remain in the sorrow of Saturday and allow lament to grow my hope. I will fail. I am not a tree. But I am attached to the vine, and I will wait for Sunday.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 42 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!
I love a good bit of writing that sticks with me and perks all day . . .
“I will do this and do it miserably. There is no way to do it right. I will remain in the sorrow of Saturday and allow lament to grow my hope.”
I wonder how many of us don’t ever ‘do this’ because we’re afraid we’ll do it miserably . . . and to try to put into words something you didn’t even know you had for the first decades of your life, but you do it anyway. I’m cheering you on and learning from you at the same time.
I had a friend call me a Friday-er years ago because in her words I Friday well. When everything you thought was true and every hope you held dear bleeds and dies, I’m your girl. I will sit with you in it and wait with you . . . for Sunday.
I allow lament to grow my hope.
Wow…thank you for your reply! I especially loved what your wrote: “I wonder how many of us don’t ever ‘do this’ because we’re afraid we’ll do it miserably . . . and to try to put into words something you didn’t even know you had for the first decades of your life, but you do it anyway. I’m cheering you on and learning from you at the same time.”
Yep….we must just do it and cheer one another on!!!.
I love what you wrote! :”I wonder how many of us don’t ever ‘do this’ because we’re afraid we’ll do it miserably . . . and to try to put into words something you didn’t even know you had for the first decades of your life, but you do it anyway. I’m cheering you on and learning from you at the same time.” Hooray to getting over shame!!!
You never cease to amaze me. Thank you for your continuing hard work of growing into your name. That wonderful awesome name that God gave you before the foundation of this world.
What a joy you are! Your words resonate with the deepest recesses of my soul.
My prayers are with you and Dan as well as the School and I especially pray for your protection in these dark times.
“My prayers are with you and Dan as well as the School and I especially pray for your protection in these dark times.” We need your prayers!! The stock market! Schools closing! Coronavirus!!! Please pray!
See above reply from marie
Oh, Becky, thank you. Thank you for your honest, struggling heart that longs for a better world with such passion and hope and dares to write it down to encourage other longing hearts. I count you a kindred spirit.
Linda…I think we are kindred spirits. I love knowing that you are out there…trying hard to live well and be well.
I ” I count you a kindred spirit.” too
Thank you Linda!!!
Becky, your words touch something deep – I’ve often dreamt of being a tree, free and large – maybe protected from harm. Thank you for this.
I love that you dream of being a tree. They are noble and majestic like you!
Becky – thank you once again for bringing your words here for all of us to feast on. A tension fills my body as I read -the wrestle with truth, suffering and despair. You are a light and infuse hope to so many of us that have pulled the curtain back. Your prayers of lament are heard and felt. I wish I were a tree too – one with a big old tire swing hanging from it. You are a gem!
Thank you Megan, thank you for seeing behind the curtain and encouraging me with your life and your words of grace. You would be a lovely tree with a big old tire swing. I love that!
Hi Becky – Trees are such lovely things! In West Michigan we watch our trees turn the brightest of green in spring, a more muted green in summer when we depend on them for shade, and brilliant shades of color in fall, and then stand starkly naked through the long, cold winter. And yet….even now….we are seeing people tapping the trees for their sap – maple trees. Much is happening even as the trees stand without their former grandeur. And we eagerly await spring and the first brilliant buds of green. So much like the cycle of life. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability with us Becky. Thank you for bravely sharing your “winter” struggle with us. Spring will come…..it always does. Hugs to you.
Barbara, what an encourager you are! You are a faithful one! I loved seeing the maples in my mind as you wrote. Oh…I had not thought of tapped and dripping sap for a long time. Thank you Michigan girl! Thank you for seeing that this is a winter struggle….
I’d written a reply earlier but it did not post – so if you get two of them from me, you’ll know why. : )
Beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more. But I think that it’s ok to be in Saturday. So much of what we have done and what is being done pains the heart…and saddens God too. We are all His children. This is the “garden” He lovingly created and asked us to take care of. We have failed. And yet the beauty is that He loves us still. But sometimes it is good to meet Him in the sorrow. We are united in that – that universal sorrow when life is devalued and evil mars the beauty humans were given by their Creator. Sorrow is sometimes the appropriate response. Saturday was there for a reason.
Thank you for a thoughtful and honest post.
KJ…thank you for understanding the importance of Saturday. Yes…it IS the human experience, especially now with Coronavirus.
Always your voice calls me in deeper. Thank you for giving voice to the agony of those whose voice was silenced.
Thank you! I have revised this article because our world has drastically changed in the past two weeks. It’s posted on The Allender Center Facebook page….