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!