A Parable about Parenting
This large hackberry tree fell in our backyard soon after the Great Divide in the summer of 2012. Its large, massive trunk and main branch toppled overnight after steady rain softened the surrounding soil.
We awoke that morning to discover our backyard had forever changed; no longer would it be the same open landscape where our children played ball, hunted Easter eggs or ran around the house playing Hide n’ Seek. This massive tree had split that land in two, delineating the time between Then and Now.
Oh agony, that such a living thing should die right before our eyes. What could we have done to prevent its demise? Lean a counter weight on its trunk to prop it up against the strong winds that were blowing? No, that would just have been a temporary fix that the tree would have fought against. Solidify the ground around it with concrete and bricks to prevent it toppling over? We had already nourished its roots with wholesome nutrients, so man-made materials would have been too inhibiting. No, its own roots would have to bear the burden.
Looking back, I think we did all that we could have done. There were missteps along the way, doing this instead of that, but who can honestly say that they raised their own trees perfectly through the years? Who can foresee such a strong, ill wind blowing through our yard? As we stood gazing at the fallen tree from the family room window, it became evident that we would have to accept the loss, carve up the limbs and trunk and roots with a chain saw, clean up the debris and throw away the remnants.
But when we examined the fallen tree more closely, the damage was not as catastrophic as we first imagined. The top of the tree was now up against the house, its uppermost branches leaning against the brick. But these branches were the newest and the lightest, so they did not leave a mark on the walls that support our home.
The large trunk of the tree was now pointing in another direction, its massive girth resting on its side. Except for a few brittle limbs that needed trimming anyway, the body of this backyard giant remained in one huge horizontal piece.
The roots of the hackberry also appear to be intact; there is little upheaval in the ground around the base of the tree. While the entity looks much differently than before, it still lives. The root system, enriched constantly during the past 27 years, continues to keep the tree alive, producing buds for new branches and fruit for the songbirds.
We have decided to live with the tree as is, allowing it to grow as it deems best. We’ve landscaped around the trunk, adding flowers and stones to enhance its simple presence in our lives. We’ve hung birdhouses and bird feeders to its limbs to care for the many visitors to its branches.
Linda and I discovered our mutual appreciation for bird watching. We check off viewings of specific species in our guidebook and marvel at the fanciful flights of the birds that alight on the branches. These branches, which once stretched high into the air, far from our sight, now reside just a short distance from our family room window. We can watch our fine, feathered friends from the comfort of our own home, without binoculars or rain gear. This is indeed a blessing, one that we cherish together.
So as the seasons change and the years roll by, we will continue to cherish this fallen tree, even though much has changed since its youth. Still, it lives on with a strong root system and brings nourishment to a new flock every year.
We pray that it will forever remain an integral part of our family, one we hope to enjoy and nurture for the rest of our days.