I look out my bedroom window and see a tree uprooted by a violent storm during the night. This tree grew tall over decades – stretching, sprouting, defying the elements. Suddenly, it no longer towers over the rest of us; it no longer provides shelter for small creatures or shade to block out the noon sun.
How sad, I think. But as I pick up my pen to journal the fall of this mighty giant, I see something else – and quickly jot down these words:
Trees that once stood tall
Felled at once by lightning strike
Create a crossing
I have seen strong men and women fall in life. I have fallen spectacularly, many times in the course of my lifetime. Sometimes felled with one blow, other times through a slow erosion that silently rots the foundation, I have fallen on my face, fallen on my sword, fallen out of favor, fallen off the wagon, fallen from grace and, when I have felt like hiding, fallen off the face of the earth.
In all forms and degrees, it is always a miserable and humbling experience.
Looking at this broken tree, I wonder – what is the better thing ? To tower over others, tall and strong – someone to be admired and looked up to, seemingly impervious to life’s storms? Or is it to lie down in truth and grace, learning from others, allowing them to use my humiliating pain as a type of crossing? Death works in me so that life can work in others. For me, this is the better thing.
I read the words of Thomas Merton this morning: Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
My prayer today – make me real and help me keep it real.