Sunday, April 24, 2016
Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Dogwood Tree
My favorite tree in our yard is just beginning to bud. Now, I must admit, when you are surrounded by dozens upon dozens and perhaps hundreds of trees, how can you have one favorite? Because for a few days each year when it is in full bloom, the blossoms appear to glow... especially at dawn or dusk.
Our two kitties are buried under the dogwood tree and yes... I do see the irony there. Both Sasha and Storm despised real life dogs. When we talked about, well, you know... D.O.G.S., we would always spell out the word as if it were a blasphemy in kitty language to even discuss such a thing.
However, I think both of our beloved girls are rollicking in Heaven, anyway. For I am one who is convinced our beloved furry members of the family are there waiting for us. I once heard a woman who had one of those experiences where she was briefly in Heaven say what surprised her most was that her pets were there, along with the humans who had passed on already. Not to mention Billy Graham wrote that he believed our pets are in Heaven. I'd like to think they will be.
But I digress...
This is the tenth spring that I have watched the rebirth of the dogwood tree. The passage of time is difficult for me to wrap my thinking around... that we have lived in our home at the edge of the forest for ten years.
When we bought this house, it was such an amazing answer to prayer. We had just gone through a few extremely difficult years. I'm quite surprised I physically survived them, although I did spend a few days in the ICU after passing out from Ketoacidosis (when blood sugar goes extremely high in Type 1 diabetics).
I remember laying in the ICU, hooked up to monitors and hearing beeping and all kinds of strange sounds. Knowing that it all indicated I was getting better but still unsettling. I asked God at that time to at least let me live to see Christopher through high school. We were still doing all of our homeschooling at the time and I knew he was not ready for a large classroom.
I'm certain God had to chuckle at that request for not only did He let me live to see Christopher receive his diploma at the Homeschool Co-op graduation, he let me see him graduate in Computer Science from a world class university, and get married, and soon to be a father.
When I lay in that hospital bed, I had no way of knowing we would be able to leave the townhouse we were renting, the one with a drunk living next to us and a possible meth lab in a couple doors down.
I sometimes cried because I missed my big, beautiful, upper middle class house in the "nice part of town"... but I also knew He had allowed us to be there for a purpose. I could see it each day as I got to know the people who lived there.
I came away from that time with a deeper understanding of faith. Having faith, unlike some of the theology we had been taught, does not mean everything is going to turn out just fine. It doesn't mean one will always be healed. It doesn't mean the trials you go through are even your fault. Sometimes they are but quite often they are just being part of a fallen world.
What I learned is that sometimes there is a winter in our life when we can't see ahead at all. The winds of adversity are sharp and bitterly cold and we can have hope only because we know His character. We may think we are falling apart but instead He is just molding us and shaping us into even stronger vessels, shining us up in the process for the Father.
If we don't let the process turn us bitter, angry, against Him.
Molding and shaping and shining hurts. Desperately at times. When you have done everything right the world tells you to do and you get an education and you pay your taxes and you tithe 10% and you give offerings and you try to love your enemies and everything still falls apart... that is when you really get to know God. For He is all you have.
Then there comes a day when He begins to put everything back together. You find out about a special loan you qualify for because your husband is on Disability. Since you live in an area with very reasonable real estate prices, especially in rural areas, you qualify for the cutest ranch house next to a forest.
You never regain your health but He gives the strength to go on one day at a time, one raised bed at a time to garden, one bush at a time to prune, one meal at a time, one evening of showing hospitality at a time, one coffee out at a time, one visit to a friend at a time... usually not being able to plan ahead very far as you don't know just how you are going to feel. But day by day He gives grace.
Your son grows up into an educated fine young man with a lovely wife, both of whom love the Lord in spite of challenges. Your daughter and her family are still 1,000 miles away but thanks to remarkable technology, you keep in touch with the big stuff and the little stuff... like your grandson sending you a photo of the fish he just caught.
Then come another spring... you find yourself looking out your window at the dogwood beginning to bloom and it has been ten years. Ten years when the March chill causes you to wonder if spring will ever return. Ten springs when the buds begin to pop and the flowers on the dogwood appear and for a few brief days, it is like the fairies sing.
There is a reason that dogwood is my favorite tree. For after the long winter, it raises its' branches to God (as if thanking Him for the gift again of new life) by getting all glittery and glowing and absolutely beautiful before settling down and doing the work of shading the ground underneath.
Can I do any less?
Image: My dogwood isn't this far in bloom, yet. Image from: Google