the dead tree in my yard
the dead tree in my yard

In my backyard, there is a very tall, very dead tree. Every morning when I meditate, I look out at the yard and see its tall stark bark-less branches and while there is a certain beauty to its sleek bareness, there is also something very stark about it.

I know we need to take it down. Add it to the list.

We also need to go through the basement box by box, toy by toy, and get rid of a lot. We need to clean out the junk drawer and the napkin drawer and the kids’ rooms and our own closets.

We need to paint in some places where the shades have rubbed the color off the window frame and we need to fix the screen door in the family room. It’s been ten  years in this house, and this is what happens. Just like people, our surroundings wear if we don’t watch it.

A skunk has taken up residence in my backyard, too. A dead tree and a skunk – it sounds like one of those heart-wrenching poems I studied in grad school. Ominous, symbolic, foreboding of things to come.

This same week, while it has been a high point of holiday in my Jewish community, it was also a short work week due to the Labor Day holiday. For us Jews, it was a 2-day work week with bright sun and fresh air and open windows all day and all night.

You’d think the world would be rotating on a peaceful axis. And yet, I’m noticing lately that not a lot of people come from the heart.

In work, in the home, in personal relationships, anything. The heart seems to be left behind a lot, and the ego is in the driver’s seat.

And yet, over the past week, I’ve been doing the kind of work that requires heart. One to one consulting and coaching where I must look someone in the eye or listen between the words for the heavy silences.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who have deep integrity and character, and I care very much about them and their success. These meetings are a joy!! This work feels like a gift!!

But what about the rest of the world? What about the people who slink through their days unhappy, complaining about everyone and everything and not finding one redeemable moment in all the many moments?

What about the animosity and the acrimony which still floats about like saturated clouds ready to release a downpour? I still see that, even in my happy days…people taking out their own discomfort and throwing it at me or my children or my husband or my house.

Is that why the skunk is there? Am I to see him as symbolic of something?

This weekend, Dan is using fox urine to try to get him out. I’m sorry, all creatures deserve to live and be well, just not all of them in my yard.

In a bit, Eliana and I are heading to the mall for lunch and shopping in honor of my niece’s 12th birthday. Celebration of life. Recognizing how wonderful every breath really is.

Last night, as my three babies (so grown!), Dan and I cuddled into our bed, I realized the boys had not chosen a charity project for their spring birthdays. Typically, I encourage my children to choose someone or something else to help in honor of their birthdays and this year just got away from us.

The girls’ birthdays are next month. Asher said, “Why don’t we pick one big project for all of us to do?” Great idea. Who can we help? How can we make the world better?

That’s the question to ask. Certainly not, why me? That will get us nowhere.

A friend has advised that, yes, it is important to pull out the dead tree so there isn’t death and darkness all around us. Feng shui our yard and house.

He said it’s more important what I will plant in its absence, what flowers and new growth we will seed – not just what to get rid of, but what growth to encourage, to look forward to, to blossom as we blossom. To feed our soul with nurturing rather than drain it by inertia.

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