Monday, April 4, 2011

unlooked-for grief

[I’ve just started a creative writing course which I hope will challenge, expand and hone my writing skills… Today’s exercise asked for 3 creative ideas, one idea expanded into 20 separate words, then those words formed into a poem of 16 lines or less, and then the same 20 words used in a short story of 300 words or less. The result?)

7 For there is hope for a tree,

if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,

and that its shoots will not cease.

8 Though its root grow old in the earth,

and its stump die in the soil,

9 yet at the scent of water it will bud

and put out branches like a young plant.

Job 14:7-9

I mourn

with unlooked-for agony.

Soared magnificent skyward,

testified truth with beauty,

my poplar friend

dead now

through thoughtless, shallow process.


am I overreacting?

Or does my anger


creation’s intrinsic value?

Today I am in mourning.

This week I watched, helpless, as my magnificent friend across the street was dismembered limb by limb and hacked to the ground in [what I considered to be] a thoughtless, shallow process. I didn’t expect its death to cause such agony.

Since we moved to this house, that tree has been for me the epitome of beauty in this place. Branches soaring skyward in poplar glory, daily testimony to the truth of “all creation praises Him”, catching a window-glimpse my heart would invariably mount up in praise. In my mind, I sat on its branches, conversing with the pigeons and the cuckoo who loved to perch high above the street and gossip. I stared full minutes at the color of the sky between its leaves, marveling at the intricate pattern of blue and green.

Embarrassed by my own grief, I ask myself, am I overreacting? Or is this unlooked-for anger its own self-vindication? Is the very fact that I feel anger at its murder proof of the tree’s own intrinsic value?

And suddenly I am grieving something else: I mourn a culture with a poverty level that forces firewood to take urgent precedence over aesthetics, where Maslov’s hierarchy of needs dictates that while homes need to be heated, hearts cannot stop to ponder the beauty of branches whispering grace.

22 Thus says the Lord GOD: “I myself will take

a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out.

I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs

a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.

23 “On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it,

that it may bear branches and produce fruit

and become a noble cedar.

And under it will dwell every kind of bird;

in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest.

24 “And all the trees of the field shall know

that I am the LORD;

I bring low the high tree,

and make high the low tree,

dry up the green tree,

and make the dry tree flourish.

I am the LORD;

I have spoken,

and I will do it.”

Ez. 17:22-24


  1. Oh, I think I would have cried! I LOVE trees! Never more than people, but... it's still sad.

  2. Carolyn! I love you! Your post reminds me of the angry tears I cried when I was pregnant with Micah and watched the tree behind our apartment being cut down.

    I can't wait for the tree that bears different fruit all year long!

  3. Hello from the U.K. - I love Jesus too. And one thing in His Creation that has always awed my heart are His trees. I came from a desert dry land in the U.S. where the trees were far and few between. And here there are so many - why even 25 different kinds of Oaks alone.

    I think its totally alright if you mourn the loss of that noble tree. I think God adores trees too - and He will miss that tree.