Yesterday I backed out of the garage and in the mirror I saw the towering pines that have stood there for forty years or more. Pines are here because someone planted them. Then they had babies. The babies like to swing. I like to lie in the hammock and watch them swing back and forth at the slightest breeze, tall skinny metronomes.
This is a land of hardwoods but not old growth. Our house sits on an old home place. The trees gave up the clues in the their population on the property. A huge white oak just a stones throw away pulled its last nutrients from the soil a few years ago. Its skeleton a craggy reminder of all it has witnessed up on this hill.
We took down a big dogwood to build our house. We had to. And it killed me. The dogwood blooms with the remembrance of Christ’s suffering in rust stained blooms in the spring. It feeds birds with red berry fruit. Its leaves turn red in the fall.
The sassafras had to go as well. I didn’t feel as much regret as I had the dogwood. Since then, sassafras seedlings have grown up under the pines out back. The first of October their leaves began changing crimson to gold outside my bedroom window. We prune them and hope for more baby sassafras under those pines.
The trees that bordered the house on the east hugged our property line--- just on the other side. If anyone ever built over there, there wouldn’t be reason to pull them down. Why would they take out the shade of the sun beating down from the west during the hot summers in the South? We hoped against hope.
The pines are gone. All day yesterday I heard the hum of the track hoe. The scoop was bent under like a knuckle and the trees groaned and cracked as they fell. I could not watch what I was hearing.
I etched in my mind the tree covered swale that was yesterday before noon. The tiny pond where bullfrogs croaked in the summer and deer stopped for a drink making their way through neighborhoods to woods and pastures in the valley is gone.
I am going to miss their white flag tails signaling there presence when I walk out to enjoy the dusk of evening falling.
There will be a house there, a family. But today I grieve over lost hope, and I struggle to remember that all is temporary. The hum of the track hoe drones. The knuckle splits trees asunder and I wonder why it affects me so.
A reminder that change is part of life is all I can make of this. It is a lesson I need to learn. There are more important things that deserve my attention, that merit the affections of my heart.
Today I am sad. I grieve sitting on the French sofa, deep and soft in pillows. I thought I might not be able to hear the war on the trees next door on this side of the house. I haven’t escaped it. The floor-to-ceiling windows frame tall pines out back. I am grateful---they are safe from the knuckle cracking over to their east .
These trees out back I pray through--- on the days when I cry out to God. I stand below them on the porch with hands stretched upward. The trees witness what no human ever will. Those trees know my pain, my intercession for the hurting, my disappointments, my need. I won’t tell them today.
They and God will hear all about it when the track hoe leaves. My hearts grieves and I wait to pray through pine trees.
I Pray through Pine Trees
I pray through pine trees
Up into the tent spread out
I am under it
Sheltered beneath wings
Of birds singing
Sparrows cared for
Flowers blooming, wilting
All of it known
And it was
And accepts the sacrifice
A fragrance before Him
Everlasting, evergreen prayers.