One day Joanne noticed small dark spots on nearly all the leaves. Close inspection revealed that millions of tiny bugs had invaded her arboreal friend. She immediately called the homeowners’ association to report the problem and asked that the tree be treated.
Joanne was horrified when, a few days later, she came home to find the tree being chopped down. In fact, by the time she arrived, it was nearly gone, felled to the ground.
She regretted reporting the problem. “I should have sprayed it, tried some things myself, taken some other approach,” she repeated to herself and to all who would listen.
Day after day, Joanne mourned her missing tree. Where there had been beauty and vibrant life, there was now a barrenness in front of her home – no singing birds, no swaying branches, no soothing shade, no musical rustling of leaves – just a circle of stones, like a grave marker, around where the tree had stood.
Many months later, a shoot appeared from within that circle of empty red earth. Joanne thought it was some sort of weed. “At least something green is growing there,” she thought. Then another shoot appeared, and another. Soon, it looked like a shrub. But in a year’s time, it was again a tree… the same tree.
For, although all that stood above the ground had been removed, the roots continued to live below ground.
Like the “Tree of Heaven” in Betty Smith’s novel, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, for both Joanne and I, the return of her resilient tree symbolizes the strength and hope that lives in all of us.
Joanne likes to remember this event whenever something seems hopeless.
“For there is hope for a tree,
When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not fail,” she recites from Job 14:7.
There is hope for what may appear dead in our lives. Something new can spring forth from abandoned dreams, stuck relationships, depleted finances… challenge in any branch of our lives.