DEAR TINY GROWING-OUT-OF-THE-ROCK TREE

Lake Opeka, Summer 2020

(from my August 2020 journal)

Here you are again in your spot along my lake. How did you get here? Over to the south and up on the bank is a tree with leaves that look much like yours. I wonder if the wind carried one of her seeds to this crack in the rocks? Seems like an unlikely place to take root, yet here you are, your tender shoots bravely reaching down for soil and water. This is the third summer I have watched you. You inspire me with your tenacity and persistence to grow in this place I doubt you would have chosen.

When I first saw you, three summers ago, you were hardly noticeable. Since then you have grown taller and the other day, I saw you again from the vantage point of my blanket under my willow tree. There you were, proudly standing straight and tall against the backdrop of the lake – as tall as your four inches can stand, nothing else growing around you except the newly mown grass.

You have some good things going for you in this location, early morning shade and plenty of mid-afternoon and evening sunshine. This time of year, the rain often becomes scarce; the grass turns brown, but you stay green and growing, close to the source of water here along the shoreline. You are also protected from the lawn mower. Out on the lawn, you wouldn’t make it past your first few tender shoots.

I wonder how many visitors to the park notice you. Do they wonder about you like I do? Usually you make me smile. I feel a kinship with you and your tenacity to keep growing in difficult place, not today. I’m irritated with you. I was going to shrug off this strange new feeling, but I have learned enough to know I need to pay attention to these kinds of things.

My question to you is why you are still growing here in this ridiculous place? You deserve so much more. On further reflection, I wonder if this is more about me than you.

Snowstorms bury you. Windstorms blow you sideways, creating waves that wash over you. Once after days of rain, you were completely submerged. Yet you stayed. What would have happened had you torn yourself away when things got hard? Would extricating yourself out of the rock have been your demise? After all this time, a stray root would have likely remained. Would it have died off or have started another tree?

Still, you do inspire me. I admit, there are some advantages to your spot by the lake. Besides the sunshine and water, no one tramples on you here. Children and adults sit down on the rocks next to you. Those who fish at this spot, proudly take pictures of their catch before releasing it back into the lake.

People like me who take time to notice, receive joy and encouragement from you as they watch you grow in a seemingly difficult place. . Who knows, perhaps someone will write a story about you. Your life here will certainly be different than when you were a little seed, dreaming about the life you thought you would have.

Well, tiny coming-out-of-the-rock tree, I wish you could talk. I would love to hear what you have to say.

*******************

After sharing my letter with a friend, he said he was interested in what the tree might say back to me. And so, Dear Reader, I listened, and after some time, the tree responded. I’ll share her response in a couple weeks or so.

Often I remember the friend who taught me to pay attention.  “Look up. Look down. Look around. See what God might have for you,” she said.” I find God often speaks to me through his creation. Some of the most unusual messages are the ones I notice when I am least expecting it.

P.S. You might enjoy reading about another unlikely place to hear God.  “The Parking Lot Tree.”

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