There was a man who, long ago, created a life filled with unbridled joy and an awareness of the universe’s amazingness.
Nevertheless, as in many stories, a shift took place; it started slowly but kept building into a flame consuming the truth until he didn’t recognize his value, his verve, or the pain that was festering, first in his mind, then in his body. He wanted to return to who he was before pleas for mercy became parts of his vocabulary, and pain grew as the sorrow enveloping him swelled around him like an eddy.
His attempts at running past his suffering were met with giant roadblocks screaming, “you cannot escape unless you choose to move from where you are in continual pain.” Yet, he remained stuck in that space: stoic, sometimes apathetic, and always thoroughly sad and broken. (All of that was easier than facing the fractured past.)
It’s interesting how life reactions can change.
Occasionally—on random, uneventful days—he’d read something that invited him (like an elegant letter secured inside a calligraphed envelope with his name on it) to regroup, rethink, and reimagine a different reality, one his spirit still recognized. But, almost always, those same readings merely closed his mind allowing him to retreat into his cocoon, protected from humanity, lost in his self-induced prison of sorrow.
The journey continued for weeks, then months, then years until he, now bearded and bent-over, found himself much older (but not wiser), completely alone, lost, and, sometimes but not often enough, longing for what used to be.
One day, as the man trudged laboriously through his forest—a walking stick in his right hand; simply a prop, something that invited him to feel aged and helpless—blinding rain fell in torrents without warning, as a tree, an Oak, to be exact, was struck by lightning right in front of him. He did not attempt to run nor move away (what would it matter if his life ended with the tree’s combustion?) but stood there watching, awe-stricken as sap boiled, branches cracked, hurling to the ground, and strips of bark peeled away as cells exploded. He felt he could commune with the tree, understand the burning fire, the fear, the strewn brokenness, the peeling away from who he and the tree had once been.
In that space, a burgeoning sense of what he would later call hope began stealing over him. Subtle awareness crept into murky recesses that many years ago chose to close their doors. Long-ago remembrances piqued curiosity, bubbling up, turning off the decades-old autopilot that had violently and swiftly occurred with a simple switch, with her demise. This love had kept him alive for so long.
Paradoxes often seem absurd but hold sacred truths—enigmas that answer questions of mystery, authenticity, and the value of life. The man’s response to leaning his cane against the smoldering tree with his gnarled hand was not a simple gesture but an epiphany. It colonized every fiber of his being; he, in his forest, unwatched by humans, sobbing at the foot of a burning tree, recreating long-ago memories and finally finding hope.
Three Questions For Discussion:
Can you see yourself in this broken man?
What sorrows do you imagine he has experienced?
Does the photo of the tree, damaged and splintered but still standing, remind you of times you’ve survived heartbreak or grief?
I’d love to hear your thoughts because we’re on this journey together.
May today bring you light and love and hope
I’d love to hear your thoughts; after all, we’re on this journey together.
May today bring you light and love and hope.
Like this tree, hit by lighting but still surviving, we can recreate our realities too. The choice is, will we?
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Awesome! I so needed this today! I can definitely relate to this man.
His sorrow may have been a loss which caused his hibernation for a season that grew into years.
Trees stripping their bark for new growth has always struck me as a metaphor for life.
Thank you, Debbie. And, yes, that man, in my mind, sequestered (and minimized) himself until he was able to see a different truth.