My husband has a reputation with trees. He wants them cleared. All of them. Gone. It baffles me, and has outright angered me in the past.
In our previous home, our back lot was very wooded. Yes, it could get messy, especially in an endless fall of leaves each autumn, but it also provided beautiful lush privacy from all of our surrounding neighbors.
He cut the trees down. Every. Last. One.
I ranted. I cried. And I never really loved my yard again.
When we moved to our new home, with lots of acreage and a very overgrown pasture, he immediately went into landscape mode, swiftly identifying which items needed to be cleared first. While I was inside picking out paint colors and organizing closets, he was outside, laying claim as master of his land.
He grew up working his grandparents’ farms, surveying land, even picking cotton. He loves the land, and his dream was to own his own little patch of Heaven.
Our new pasture was his canvas, and he was the artist. This was his opportunity to create beauty from brush. He loves his time on his tractor. His soul is deepened each weekend as he finds a corner of our property to pour his energies into.
Soon we found ourselves dancing around the age-old debate….which trees would go, and which would stay. In full disclosure, I’m not sure the word “trees” appropriately identified the thick, rambling bramble that he had to try to tame. Most were not much more than overgrown brush, strangling growth around them.
There were, however, some non-negotiables. A beautiful oak that sits at the far end of the pasture. And a few smaller ones, who seemed to be hanging on with hope, with a glimpse of being strong and mighty one day.
We walked the land. We tagged what could go and what should stay, and we came to one last, scraggly tree, in an awkward spot that really didn’t make any sense at all.
I presented the emotional reasons to keep it. He presented the very-practical reasons to pull it. And because the perfect pasture is his dream and he IS the one who cares for it all, he won. The sapling would be pulled.
The following weekend, I sat on the deck overlooking my husband working in the field he loves so deeply. Scrappy tree after rambling brush was cleared to make the land fresh and thriving. Finally all that remained to be cleared was the solitary, highly-debated seedling.
I watched as he maneuvered the tractor to run over it. As the tractor crossed over, the sapling immediately sprang back up. He circled around for another try. The tractor flattened it. The tree sprang back. I sat on the deck laughing, watching him try again and again, and each time this tiny tree righted itself to it’s full and sturdy height of 4 feet. Tiny but mighty.
It reminded me of those inflatable punching bags we had as kids, the kind with the weighted bottoms. No matter how hard you knocked it, it always bounced back upright. Or like Weebles. They wobble but they don’t fall down.
This young sprout of a tree was not to be defeated. It had staked it’s claim.
And so it remained. It’s refusal to be knocked down, pulled or otherwise removed has made it one of the favorite parts of our now healthy and thriving land.
Resilient. Stubborn. Headstrong. Deeply-rooted. Confident. Determined.
Each time I look at the tree, I see all of those things. It grows as a symbol of strength, of what it means to rise again. Of being invincible.
There is a saying that it’s not the times you get knocked down that matter, but it’s about how you rise, again and again.
Life gives us endless opportunities to rise, because it also gives us endless experiences that knock us flat.
I reflect on the times I have felt like the sapling, run over, knocked down, ungrounded.
I marvel at the times of strength when I’ve been able to bounce back up, and stand tall, and grow from each experience.
That silly tree, the little one at the base of the hill, is a living testimony to what we all have within us, a resiliency so great, that no one, NO ONE, can prevent us from rising again.
And always, always growing.
PS. My husband likes to say that he decided the tree should stay put, but we really know who made the decision to stay!