Dear Reader, Perhaps you have read my recent blog post entitled, “Dear Person who sits under the Weeping Willow Tree.” If not, Click HERE. She and I both are finding the lake to be full of life lessons. You are invited to join us on this discovery. (You can read the beginning of the series starting HERE:)
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Dear tiny little Growing-Out-Of-The-Rock Tree. It’s nice to hear from you. I’ll try to answer all the questions raised in your latest letter. You asked if things are getting “better.” Yes, they are. Perhaps, I’ll tell you more about it sometime, but for now, I’ll say this. While there are still hard things, they are now hope-laced hard things. There’s a big difference.
The lake is beautiful again after the algae mess at the lake. As you know, they had to close it and treat it with chemicals. My neighbor says runoff of fertilizer used to maintain the golf course on the other side of the lake contributes to the growth of algae during warm weather.
It’s good for us humans to remember – to every action (maintaining the golf course) there is a reaction, (occasionally the overgrowth of toxic algae in the lake next to it) leading to another action (treating the lake with chemicals) which if not done carefully, will lead to more reactions. The wisdom lies in carefully considering our actions and adjusting, when possible, to minimize the reactions and actions.
You ask why I haven’t been over at the lake very much and wonder if it is the algae.
Yes, I find myself withdrawing from you. If I don’t see the ugliness, I can pretend it’s the way I like it to be. You thrive in a less-than-ideal place. I am learning to do the same.
My reluctance to see you in your ugly situation was about my own “hard place.” I am learning there are times when I cannot take on others’ hard places and that’s OK. And yet, the closer I come to you, the more I see and focus on the beauty of your new growth.
It’s one of the complications of long-term suffering. As a hurting person, I need to recognize others’ emotional capacity and respect it instead of taking it personally if they are unable to be there for me.
I’ve also learned not everyone has the right to know my pain. I have learned the importance of finding my people, recognizing and respecting their limits and mine. When I am able, I take the time to be present with them in their pain
Besides your perseverance, you are remarkably resilient – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
My heart sank recently when I came upon the work of an over-aggressive weed whacker. I’ve been complaining (to no one really) about the poor trimming job they do around the edge of the lake.
I thought about writing to the park district and suggesting how they could improve. True to form, I only thought about it, but THIS is what I have been afraid of.
Two Weeks Later: Look at you. Mowed down and still growing. No one would
know if it weren’t for the few bare stalks sticking up.
A few months ago, I did notice one of the main stalks looked like it had been cut at one point, so guess it’s not the first time. I like to think I have become more resilient. It’s what others have told me.
I understand more fully what my friend Shirley always said to me in other hard times: “God doesn’t waste my suffering as long as I cooperate with him.” It’s not like I pretend nothing happened. I feel my feelings and process them with trusted friends. I talk to God often about things, complain a lot, argue with him sometimes, and even go silent on him for a while. Staying honest and open is all part of the cooperating.
And now, about my fascination with Weeping Willow Trees: It started with my grandmother’s massive Weeping Willow Tree. When I was sixteen, I wrote a rhyming poem about her farm, declaring the Weeping Willow tree to be “a hundred feet around, I bet.” In my little-girl eyes, it was magnificent.
The best part was the swing, which hung from a limb far above the ground. My grandchildren know nothing about this kind of swing – a heavy rope slung high around a sturdy branch with a board seat. I can still feel my fingers curling around the thick rope.
I don’t have a photo of the actual swing since we didn’t many photos in those now long-ago days. I did find one so you can see what I am talking about.
Hanging on to a clunky chain as my grandchildren do is nothing compared to holding on to the rough natural-fiber rope. The board seat is perfect for two cousins to stand face-to-face as we pump higher and higher. What I would give to swing there again. Oh, wait, my recent proclivity to positional vertigo would put a quick end to that idea.
I suppose that’s why I have always loved the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall
Till I can see so wide
Rivers, trees, cattle, and all
Over the countryside.
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown –
Up in the air, I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Source: A child’s Garden of Verses (1999)
We didn’t live close to my grandparents, but my parents made sure we got to see them every summer. Oh, how I loved Grandma’s Dairy Farm with the black and white Holstein milk cows.
Today, the Weeping Willow Tree towering up above the garage is long gone with a housing development in its place. Only the old Elm tree still stands where it has always stood, behind the old farmhouse along the road now renamed “Hertzler Road. It’s the least they could do.
I was an incurable romantic and decided as a young girl I wanted a marriage proposal under a Weeping Willow tree. My fiancé found out about that dream after we were engaged. That summer we stopped at a park and climbed up into a Weeping Willow Tree; he asked me to marry him all over again. I said “yes” again.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you why I call the Willow Tree “my” tree. It’s one of the questions you asked. It’s all about Rory, one of the main characters in a popular TV series, “Gilmore Girls,” a comedy/drama in the early 2000s. Rory, the daughter, grows up and goes to college. One day while looking for a place to study outside, she comes upon a tree, curls up under it with her books, and promptly proclaims it her study tree. (Click HERE so see for yourself:)
It was’t a Weeping Willow Tree, but by that time, I was regularly going to Lake Opeka and sitting under The Willow Tree at the lake. I decided it was “my” tree and it’s been mine ever since. Since then, I have found others who declare it to be their tree. We cheerfully agree to share it as long as we don’t arrive at the same time. Get there first, it’s yours. She felt like a refuge away from all the noise of my life.
One of the things I have not commented on is your observations about the pruning of my Willow Tree over there. You say it “seems to be a necessary part of life . . . important to the overall growth and health of trees and plants.” I suppose it’s true about humans too. I find the process to be a difficult one. Why can’t we grow without the pain? Maybe I’ll come back to that topic another time.
Heading into the beauty of fall reminds me of the creative Creator who made all this for our delight. The trees in the neighborhood are changing as well as the ones at the lake. This week we are in Wisconsin Dells – more beauty.
I look forward to hearing from you again before the snow flies.
Till next time,
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And now Dear Reader, I suspect, you see life lessons in God’s creation around you. He does have this unique way of using the very things he has created to show us his wisdom. Feel free to share here if you’d like.