I grew up in a family of non-movers. A neighborhood actually. When I was only four my parents moved into a new construction home on a street yet to be paved. They landscaped their dream yard and met neighbors who could better be called family. Our parents chatted late into the night and we kids took advantage of the late bedtime playing kick the can and hid a handkerchief behind the trees for area wide capture the flag. I'd call that place home until I married the summer after college. Most of my beloved neighbors are still there.
More memories were made in that space when I can count. Some happy. Some sad. Some down right hilarious. Amongst the funny moments was the evening a possum decided to make our front tree home. Noticing it hanging upside down, my dad, not a "creature" fan, promptly freaked out and grabbed the fish net from the garage. Our next door neighbor, Vern, who knew my dad taking care of household situations could sometimes be more dangerous than helpful, promptly appeared like he always did. My dad quickly sat down in the passenger seat of Vern's car and together they drove off into the country to let the creature go. I was in the sixth grade and I can still remember the hilarity of seeing the length of the fish net hanging out of the car as the two drove off.
And after my dad passed away, it is one of the memories I apparently filed away into my memory box.
This past week our city survived a devastating ice storm. People who planted dreams spent time this weekend in melting snow and chilly rain hauling the piles of broken branches that were littering the yards and streets and threating the safety of their homes and decks. Shade was lost. Beauty was stolen. Muscles ached and spirits were splintered.
Because my husband and I live in a new neighborhood we had no trees capable of causing the horrific damage others endured. We didn't live the constant firework like sound of trees continuing to fall or chainsaws removing the threatening branches. But, as the sad pictures filled my twitter and Facebook stream, my mind went to my childhood home.
Yesterday we finally ventured out, and I visited my place. What I saw threatened tears.
The large tree that possum wanted to make its home was bungeed up - I suppose to keep siding and roof safe - and with it some of "my place" was destroyed.
I didn't think I was super attached to trees and I struggled to figure out where these feelings were coming from, until I realized that our homes - inside and out - are part of our identity. Those spaces are the built with purpose to show who we are and they become the site of the memories we forever carry.
I suppose in all the disarray the new look threatened some of the "me" I hold on to, as silly as that may sound.
On the way to church this morning another huge tree fell across a well-traveled street, rerouting traffic. It made me anxious to hear a Word that always stands. And, after I listened to an incredible sermon about our lives feeling turned upside down, my eyes drifted to the huge cross centered behind.
Your identity is in a different tree.
We just recently finished Holy Week with our eyes on a loving Jesus, nailed to a tree for and for me. Through relationship with Him, that tree makes forgiveness and reconciliation possible. It gives eternal hope and because of His great love we never walk alone.
He fills us up as we clean up our mess and shed the tears.
It's easy to see our spaces and places destroyed. It's scary to know our damage has no finality because more trees are falling, making driving down the street, allowing the kids to play in the snow, or even an innocent walk feel like a dangerous game of Russion roulette. But if we look around and see the good Samaritans performing random acts of kindness and neighbors helping neighbors we see new memories being made. Memories of being a strong, caring people. And, if we will choose to look upward we'll see life not from the vantage point of childhood memories or our day to day surroundings but through the eyes of our God who chose lumber to give us abundance.
A gift we are all thankful for. Especially right now.
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