For a year and a half I’ve paused at this tree next to this creek bank in these Virginia woods, wondering when it was finally going to fall, what storm would prove to be too much for an ancient root system, which wind gust would push it over. I’ve also wondered about its history. How long has it been standing here, how many birds has it harbored in nests, how many generations of children have attempted to climb it? Has a rope every been tied to its branches so children could swing out over the water? How many winters has it been covered in snow? How many springs saw it leaf out into a cacophony of brilliant new green leaves?
The trees here grow very tall and very strong. They tower above me for as far as I can see, testimonies to strength and the ability to weather many storms and weather conditions. For decades on end they go from seed to sapling to mature trees, the strongest among them bending with the wind, firmly rooted in the soil beneath them.
Sometime in the few weeks since I last walked this trail that final wind gust came along or perhaps the day simply came when nothing was left to hold it up anymore. I like to think that it went down in a mighty gust of wind, with all the noise and fanfare it deserved on its final journey back into the ground it emerged from as a tiny sprout.
Although it now lies fallen, it still speaks loud and clear about all the years it stood, tall and resilient to nature’s forces.
Which turned my thoughts to human resilience and what it takes to be resilient as we travel through life.
In the last half of 2016, but especially in this first week of the new year I’ve become aware of challenges in the lives of people I love that have required or will be demanding great personal resilience. Cancer needs to be confronted and fought. Voices need to heard and hearts protected. Time is needed to soften the blow of lives that been irrevocably altered through death.
Which brings me back to my woods. This is my place of resilience. In all seasons it offers solace and delight.
My dog and I have walked miles upon miles in these woods.
These woods, these trails, they are what make me resilient in a world that can often shock and shake me to my core. But because of these woods and because of the foundation the rosary gives me, I am armed against and can hopefully resist most of what life throws at me.
The day will come, just as it did for the tree, when I will no longer be able to bend with the wind but I don’t believe that day is today.
When it does come, I firmly believe my faith will be there to take me to the next place because the roots of my faith are deep and my foundation is solid.