Our StormsPosted: September 1, 2011
Storms come in our lives and at times, those events result in damage—the breaking of branches, and at times of our hearts. At some point, the sun returns and with that arrival, before us rests the possibility of recovery or healing. Sometimes the gift is simply being granted the energy to clean up the debris that has been left behind. It seems, we can’t choose when the time to recover or heal will occur, we need to just wait, patiently. Certainly, we would never choose the storm, the hurt or the loss.
I have found, often it is once we have begun to move forward, it is in the action of looking back that we have the clarity to see the magnitude of the space that was once occupied. At that time, if we take the time to pause long enough we have the opportunity to fully appreciate, understand and encompass the enormity of what is now—missing. And, of the beauty of what was once there.
A storm visited Rooster Ridge recently and the result of that windstorm was that one of my “favorite trunks” on a multiple trunk arborvitae cracked from the strong winds. In the aftermath, the ravaged and splintered remains needed to be removed—enter the chainsaw. What made this particular trunk so special to me was the shape it had grown into. The trunk had grown horizontally, just above the ground, for approximately twenty inches in length, which in tree-years must have been quite some time. I had imagined, that this particular trunk must have needed some extra time, before it reached the moment of inspiration to begin reaching upwards. A few more years, or a couple of extra days—to be ready. Ready to take the risk, to have the courage to grow towards the light and toward possibility. What was incredible about this unusual growth pattern was that during that delay—something quite unique had been created. The trunk had become a seat of sorts; an alive, growing, arborvitae bench.
I often sat there, with a cup o’ joe in hand, as it was a wonderful place to pause, to reflect. The evergreen leaves that grew in a lace-like pattern on the branches above created a stippled pattern of light as I looked down at the ground—beneath where my steps would fall. As I would stand to depart I often reflected on the comparison to the unknown and stippled path we all travel. Other times as I would sit there I would take the opportunity to look above, towards the sky as a magnificent wallpaper would emerge upon the ceiling-sky. The lace-like green evergreen leaves fanned out and rested on a background of blue sky. On some days white, puffy-cotton cloud patterns interspersed and over lay the blue—adding another new dimension. On cloudy days, a completely new, quieter—green and gray pattern was revealed. Each day was different and dependent upon the sky. Watching the changing patterns from one day to the next opportunity I would have to sit there reminded me of slowly leafing through an old wallpaper book. The large, thick pages displaying repeating patterns, with page after page of alterations of color.
Each day after the storm as I walked by, on my way into The Cottage at Rooster Ridge, I found myself feeling disheartened at the loss of my contemplation seat. One day, I decided to study the space—that the absence of my missing arborvitae bench had created. I wanted to see if I could discover some meaning, in what remained, in the place where my gift from nature once grew. I inquisitively peered into the cut off trunk, doubtful that anything but disappointment existed. I noticed that the once hard wood had become soft and damp and was beginning break down, to eventually become nature’s mulch. Gently, the understanding came to me, a lesson I have learned as I have traveled along my path—often what remains after a storm is a new opportunity for growth. At times, it is in our personal storms of hurt, damage or loss that hope grows. I realized the storm that had taken my bench had left behind a new opportunity—a space for planting. A living container rich with nutrient filled mulch and able to hold moisture. I planted a fern in the remaining part of the arborvitae trunk and in doing so, I was reminded of the hidden beauty and all of the possibilities for growth that exists within our storms.