One of the benefits of a warmer-than-normal fall in the Midwest is the opportunity to get out for a walk without bundling up from head-to-toe. It’s especially helpful for me, as walking is one of my go-to, self-care modalities as I process grief.
One of the pitfalls is, though, while the warmth and sunshine are appreciated, the storms that are trying to settle us into winter weather have definitely created havoc.
A few days ago, Sadie and I were bundled up so we could get out and walk. Isn’t she just adorable in her new coat?
Anyhow, just yesterday we were able to go for a walk coat-free. It was a true reprieve from the cold windstorm we witnessed earlier in the week.
There was a lot of damage in our area. Power was out, utility poles had snapped, and tree limbs and debris littered the neighborhood.
There’s a small church up the street from me, and it is my favorite place to walk and snap photos. Sadie is a patient photography assistant. She earns her treats. The church has a beautiful, four-season meditation garden with a pond, and a park-like setting to stroll through.
I patiently waited a few days to get to my “Zen place,” because yellow caution tape prevented me from accessing my sacred ground. However, though I could have ducked under the tape, I have enough sense to not want to tempt fate with downed electrical lines.
Sadie and I approached the uprooted tree that caused so much damage. As the tree was falling, its large limbs were entangled with power lines. The force of the fall snapped a utility pole in half; limbs landed on a nearby garage; sparks were flying, and a nearby tree was grazed and narrowly escaped being destroyed.
Stepping forward, I got up close and personal with the uprooted tree, and realized what I was seeing was a true metaphor of my life.
Just like the tree, my life has been uprooted. Like the tree, I’ve bent and swayed through many of life’s storms.
The tree appeared strong. I’m not an arborist, but I looked carefully and didn’t see any rot or holes. The limbs that were cut looked healthy. The tree had obviously sustained multiple ice storms, windstorms and thunderstorms, yet remained strong and grounded and firmly planted.
Until it wasn’t.
The tree was a refuge of shade on a hot summer’s day. It was a work of beauty when it was encased in ice and the glint of the sun made it sparkle. It was a home for animals and birds, and a feast for woodpeckers looking for insects. Its seeds dropped into the soil, making for new growth.
Until it couldn’t.
Like the tree, in life, we never know what or when we can be uprooted. Death, a terminal diagnosis, loss of any type, trauma – whatever – has the potential of pulling us out of what felt like solid ground. We lay there, like the tree, dumbfounded and ask, what the hell just happened?
I looked at the gaping hole in the earth. Yes, one day it will be filled in. But that spot of the earth is forever changed. The ground will be smoothed, but the tree won’t be there. The tree will be missed, life will go on, but nothing will be the same.That is precisely how I felt, being uprooted. Life will smooth out, life will go on, but it will never be the same. #Grief #Trauma #SarahStrong Click To Tweet
That is precisely how I felt, being uprooted. Life will smooth out, life will go on, but it will never be the same.
Grief and trauma have a way of uprooting us when we least expect it.
That beautiful tree will have new purpose. It will become firewood, keeping people warm. It will become woodchips, to garnish a garden. In its spot, new life will grow, be it a patch of grass, a new tree, or beautiful wildflowers. The one thing for certain is that tree – in whatever form it takes – will never be the same.
Like the tree will evolve, so will anyone who has been uprooted in life. I believe the secret sauce to healing from being uprooted is to do the hard work of grief and trauma recovery and processing. Then, we can evolve into something a bit different, yet honor those original roots. Roots that were damaged and exposed by the storms of life, but roots that can find fresh, fertile soil and become enriching in a different way.
And then, when we get uprooted again by life’s storms, when we are exposed and hurting and feeling like the ground isn’t stable, we’ll remember that even though the landscape has changed, it still has the potential for beauty, just in a different way.
Copyright © 2020 by Lynne Cobb