Dear Little Growing-out-of-the-Rock Tree

Dear Reader, thanks for joining me once again as I continue my dialogue with a tree I have been watching grow since the summer of 2017. If you haven’t read the recent posts between me and the Little Growing-out-of-the Rock Tree, start HERE. You’ll likely smile and might even relate as we talk about life at the lake from our individual perspectives. While I visit the lake, she lives there.

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Hello there, Little Growing-out-of-the-Rock Tree,

As I write “Hello there,” I hear my mother’s cheery greeting when I called or stopped by for a visit. Her voice carried a mix of delight and surprise as I entered her day, whether she expected me or not. I find it curious I am sounding increasingly like her these days.

lake sunset
Fall 2021

It was good to hear from you again. Did you see the beautiful sunset the other day? Wasn’t it glorious – the colors in the sky, reflecting onto the water? And there you stood enjoying it right along with me.

I got inspired and created a collage of sunsets I have seen over the years before you came along. The one in the middle with shades of pink, purple, and blue is the one I almost missed on my brother’s 57th birthday seven years after he died. It’s been seventeen years now since Gordon left us. His birthdays are full of bittersweet memories, and will be, until I see him again.

Lake Opeka sunsets through the years

That January afternoon, I am picking up a few things from the store and don’t want to take time to drive to the lake, although it’s perfect timing to catch another winter sunset. All week I have been sick with a pounding headache and eyes that don’t want to open.

At the last minute, I make the five-minute drive to Lake Opeka.

January 2002 Sunset

The subtle peach-colored, lavender sky greets me and when I arrive starts to morph into hues, of orange, pink, purple and blue – a scene so spectacular I can hardly breathe – all within the space of nine minutes. I laugh. I cry. I take pictures. I’ve not seen one like this before or since.

As I watch, wondering at the beauty, it seems I hear God saying to me:

It is my gift to you for Gordon’s birthday.
I wanted you to see this.
I am glad you came here this evening.
I wanted you to remember I love you so much
and I am with you.”

I wrote about it on my blog – you can read it HERE. The pictures are stunning. Oh wait, I guess that isn’t going to work for you. Guess you don’t have a computer over there, do you? I’ll show you the next time I come over here.

In your letter you ask me about the blank books you see me and others using here. We call them journals. Ask five people why they write in a blank book. You’ll get five different answers. Here is mine.

The summer of 2005, in my late fifties, I take part in weekly, group spiritual direction at my church. I am satisfied/content with how things are with me and God, yet as I engage, I sense a deepening desire to know God more fully. I learn ways to engage my heart with God through scripture, journaling my thoughts to God and then being quiet to see what he might be saying to me.

Three months later, Gordon, my one remaining sibling dies. Suddenly, I am on my way to Montana for a funeral. On the plane I grab my journal and a pen. I know I must write. HERE is what I write as we hurtle unwillingly through the air. In the writing, I find a voice for my grief as I begin to pour my sorrow onto the pages.

Five years ago, I lost two  journals under the Weeping Willow in whose shadow you grow. To make it worse, they were in a small tote bag my much-loved Aunt Lois made for her “favorites” (all of us girl cousins). I am gone no more than ten minutes. I search the garbage cans close by, hoping whoever found them threw them away, though they are priceless to me. I feel like someone stole a part of me. The inner workings of my recovery are recorded on those pages. I remember what my wise Dad said to me when I lost a journal years earlier, “You are more than words in a journal.”

I continue to write. Writing slows my thoughts. When my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) mind goes off in fourteen directions at once, I can look back and see where it has been. Sometimes the common thread shows through, and I can begin to make sense of something puzzling me. Other times I’m confused as ever but have had a place to pour out my frustration to God. There is value in feeling heard as he reminds me he is present with me.

Some say I write poetry; some say I write prose, and one instructor called it prose poetry. Some say it is memoir writing or creative non-fiction. I don’t try to call it anything anymore. All I know for certain, writing saved me then and has continued to save me over the ensuing years.

I wrote this in the fall, and only now getting around to finishing it. Things are a bit different at the lake. I was over there last night and didn’t stay long – too cold.

Lake opeka sunset
January 2022

You have lost all your leaves. You seem so vulnerable and if I didn’t know better, I would think your life is over. Yet, every year I am reminded there is quiet life going on in winter. What appears to be lifeless is more like resting, getting ready for the next growing season. Here you are, and I still wonder at your perseverance. I suspect my wondering is more about me than you.

Never, ever did I think I would be in the difficult places I have found myself over the years. I have been and remain in one of those places and it’s why you haven’t seen me writing over here as often. (of course, now, it’s too cold.) Sometimes when things are disjointed, up in the air, I find it helpful to process things with an inner circle of friends and my counselor. These days I mostly come here to breathe, be still and know I am not alone.

Hope to hear back from you – I’m going to head over there now to catch another sunset. See you there.

Your “sits-under-the-willow tree” friend.
Carol

PS: It was so icy I couldn’t get close enough to see you last night over there by the newly pruned Willow Tree. She looks a little silly, but oh, how grand she will be with all the dead branches gone. I have been afraid to sit under her when it’s windy because I’ve been afraid one would crash down on me. I’m sure you saw the same sunset – stunning as usual. It never gets old, does it?

lake sunset

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As always, Dear Reader, stay tuned. You never know quite when another story for my grands will pop up or when I might hear back from my Little Growing-from-the-rock Tree. You all know by now  I write “when inspired” which means it’s unlikely a post will arrive on any kind of predictable schedule.

I’ve included a few links here today – the one I most hope you will follow is the one about my brother’s birthday. Yes, I included a link above, but I really want you to read this one. What I experienced there that day is not only true about me. God is with us in the good and the hard. It was one of those moments I will never forget. HERE  it is again.

One more reminder, when you subscribe you’ll receive a notice in your email inbox. You’ll only hear from me when I get inspired and write something for this space. Until next time . . .
Warmly, Carol

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