I sit in meditation. The image which haunts me mourned but unappeased comes to my eye. It is the maple tree that has long stood on the river bank near my cabin. The cabin was built on a flood plain some 90 years ago, now illegal, but built before that ruling.
The tree’s great wide trunk and broad limbed branches are my image of a grandmother going back to childhood when nature offered me what my parents did not. The tree was my shelter from wind, storm and sun. Always there, a prop for my life until…
My mind was in an uproar. Many men, a crew was digging, lining, filling a long, low wall against the river’s next upsurge. Now there is a “100 year flood” every 3 years. My friend was upstairs building a safety place for putting away large metal canisters filled with food. It had air absorbers to keep the food from oxidizing. It was a complicated task which included using a vacuum cleaner to withdraw the air without sucking up the grain and beans.
There were men everywhere with me already submitting to their superior knowledge when this skinny short, seemingly helpful psychopath came to the door and presented himself as a woodsman. He was hiding behind his father’s profession which he cited as his own. He said that two of my trees were leaning over a neighbor’s wall, that the man had complained to him of the danger should these trees fall on his house. The kid said if I didn’t take them down the neighbor would sue me for damages.
It was then it happened. The frightened child appeared in my mind and usurped my adult thinking. The “could-be” became an “is.” The fake tree expert became a real one. He said I will take them down for you and do it cheaply, tomorrow, after you are gone. Said he would split and stack what he took down as firewood, which of course he didn’t do. Asked for immediate payment.
I drove to the cash machine and got it. My child stuck its chest out with the pride of a child who acts to please the tyrannical and punitive parents residing inside the adult’s brain. So the internal frozen child swallowed the lie. Incidentally, my parents were great liars. Ok I said, without even looking at which trees he meant. I assumed it would be two of several trees which lined the wall between our properties and might fall on my neighbor’s shed.
But I was wrong. My assumption had no base. This short-sighted maniac went for the tree which stood silent and secure on the riverbank alongside my storage shed, nowhere near the fence. I hear my child’s whining excuses reverberate inside my head, “No. I did not know.” My enraged adult tells it to “shut up.” No excuse for this criminal act. My child continues to argue: “I cannot be held responsible.”
My adult does not fall for it. “Really? You led a thief to your jewelry box and then deny responsibility for the theft?” But this analogy is trivial compared to what I did. I paid for and countersigned murder. I took the life of a being I deeply love.
I weep while I meditate on the loss I have caused. I beg Mother Earth to forgive me. But the Mother is always forgiving, attempting to nurture us all.
Forgiveness is not an act of words thrown into the air. My anti-life crime will always exist. What can I do? What must I do? I will call up Bruce, the kid who once helped me with basic ground work and now is a “tree man” living on his parent’s farm up the road. I will ask him to plant a young tree by the river bank near the pathetic stump of the murdered tree. Grandma tree will remain dead and there will be not enough years for me to see a great 100 year old tree emerge. But I will place it in the ground and pray for its lasting welfare. Healing Mother Earth is my mandate.