It’s just a tree, but for six years, it’s been my favorite tree. Tonight, half of it has been cut down — and the rest will be gone tomorrow.
When I moved into this house six years ago, this majestic old tree quickly became my favorite part of living here. Each time I’ve stepped out of my front door, this tree has been there to greet me. That tree came to symbolize the beauty of nature’s changing seasons for me.
Each spring, I had the joy of watching new buds spring out of these giant branches. By summer, it would form a massive canopy over my front yard. In the autumn, its leaves would fill my yard with delightful gold and brown leaves that crunched underneath my feet. And in winter, it always stood in silent majesty — as a silent promise that life would soon be reborn.
And now, the beautiful tree which I had come to love so much is gone — and I find myself mourning its loss just as I’ve mourned the deaths of two human neighbors lately.
The tree is right on the property line that I share with a next door neighbor. Most of its huge branches hung over my yard, but it was technically in my neighbor’s yard. So it was his call.
He had cut some of the branches on his side of the tree several years ago when they got too close to his house, but I had hoped that would be enough. I feared that maybe the cutting that was done then was extensive enough to damage the tree, but I’m no a tree expert.
My neighbor tells me that a good portion of the tree is already dead, so he decided it was dangerous to leave it standing. During a recent heavy thunderstorm, I heard a crack from the direction of the tree late one night as intense winds whipped through the neighborhood. I worried that a section of the tree could be falling — and my house and car would be directly in its path.
So I can’t fault my neighbor for deciding to cut the tree down. Maybe it was necessary — but it still feels like a tragic loss, even if that might sound odd to most people.
Sometimes, things happen in my life that feel like meaningful messages to my unconscious. Maybe it’s just because I like to find meaning in things that happen, so maybe the meaning isn’t really there. Or maybe the universe gives me subtle signals that I can choose to ignore or pay attention to. I don’t know. I just know that I sometimes find possible meaning in the most peculiar things.
Tonight, I’m feeling the oddest sensation — supported by no rational facts — that the death of this tree signals the end of something for me. The deaths of my neighborhood friends — first Cora last fall and then Harvey in January — made my neighborhood feel less like home. And now the loss of this tree seems to put an exclamation point on that feeling.
Maybe it’s time for me to consider moving on. Maybe my time here needs to come to a close after just six years.
I realize this sounds ridiculous. If it sounds silly to me, I know it sounds even more strange to those who didn’t have attachments to Cora or Harvey or the tree.
But nature has cycles. Sometimes they’re obvious and sometimes they’re more subtle. But there is a time for all things. The ancient writer of the Hebrew book called Ecclesiastes beautifully expressed it in this way:
To everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to break down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to count as lost,
a time to keep and a time to discard,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
How do we know when it’s time to do what? When it’s time to plant and when it’s time to uproot? I believe there’s a still small voice that’s constantly telling us — and we hear that voice only when we’re wise enough to listen.
Maybe my season in this neighborhood is coming to an end. Or maybe not. I’ll be thinking about it over the coming days.
But either way, I’m certain that I’ll miss my majestic and beautiful old friend.