"Guck" on Trees

Perhaps, my lingering emotional quivering after Hurricane Matthew hit in early October, is partially due to my being “guck” on trees. Amelia, my dearly loved granddaughter, now a college student, used to announce she was guck and needed help as a toddler. Her grandpa and I use that term when we get “guck” on an issue, a problem, a challenge, or some frustration. Are you “guck,” we will ask one another.

And I think I may be guck, foolishly guck, over the loss of trees, the damage caused by trees falling on homes, businesses, vehicles, across roads, twisted in tortured shapes. I have this thing about trees. I don’t know when it began. Maybe it was on a walk to visit my grandmother, a walk of less than two miles that took me hours to complete. I’d stop, look up at a tall tree, think about God, and begin a conversation with the Creator of trees.

Maybe it was as I lay under a tree when we had a lakeside camp in the Adirondack Mountains where I grew up. All I know is that looking at trees calms me, centers me, sends me into thoughts of creation, the providence of God, memories of the birch tree next to my childhood home.

I never thought of trees as being weapons in a hurricane, attacking homes and risking people’s lives. Trees meant shelter, wood for campfires, shafts of light piercing foliage to light a path in the woods. And now I have to process a new perspective, that old hard deal where something is both good and bad, beneficial and harmful. And I don’t like it.

I try to tell myself that the sound of chain saws means relief for people who have fallen trees to remove in order to regain a needed sense of recovery from a storm that brought flooding, damage, and loss to thousands. But my heart battles sadness and I realize I am “guck.” I use words like immature, silly, selfish to describe my mixed confused feelings. I tell myself to move on and quit being “guck.” I am grateful that we had no damage to our small, aging, mobile home. Yard mess is not real damage. It is only a nuisance. Yet I look at a tree in our neighbor’s side yard and I fight the urge to go hug it. Limbs are broken and dangling. It has lost its beauty.

Several months ago, my husband and grandson Ezra trimmed a tree. They trimmed it too much for me. I wept. I mourned for weeks. And then the tree began to grow again. It still looks ugly, deformed. I ponder it often. It is a symbol for me of the twisted darkness in this world, of so much that grieves me. I whisper appreciation to God for the resilience of this damaged tree. It reminds me of how often God has helped me through tough, painful moments. It is a symbol of redemption for me, how God does that in the lives of people. I have told God I know I get “guck” on trees and there may be hidden sin in that.

I tell God all of this repeatedly, as I sort through complex emotions associated with being a tree gucker, not a tree hugger. Lord, I need to be rooted in you and to trust you with your creation, even in the damages wrought by Hurricane Matthew. Ezekiel: 31:7 (ESV)It was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its roots went down to abundant waters.

Ezekiel: 31:7 (ESV)It was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its roots went down to abundant waters.

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