They Cut Down the Tree

There was one single tree outside my office window, its arms reaching upward to the sky and delivering beautiful flowers every spring to lighten my gaze. I’ve lived here 7 years and every year, that tree has watched me through the seasons as I’ve watched it. And in the cool quiet of every morning, it was the one symbol of beauty and nature in this built-up world.

And today, when we arrived home from school, cut branches littered my neighbor’s lawn.

They chopped down the tree, pulled it out from its roots, leaving the earth gaping and raw. Inside the car, the kids and I fell unquestionably silent. “I feel so sad,” I said as we ambled into the car, bookbags and coats among us.

“I know,” said¬†8-year-old Asher, the most sensitive one of us all.

The view from above my desk: white siding, the slats of a rust-splattered vent at the peak of their roof, and above it white sky more cloudy than clear. So appropriate. My own personal metaphor.

Just one day after Earth Day but not everyone notices. On the playground, Asher had painted his face yellow from dandelions. He was like a 2nd-grade warrior with battle paint.

At home, after he’d scrubbed it twice to erase every last bit, he fell into my arms in tears. I’d asked him to go to yoga with me the night before but he was the teacher in my children’s play school and it was more fun and immediate to play power trip than seek peace with Mom.

“I wish you’d gone to yoga with me last night,” I said as he sobbed. From exhaustion or hunger or sheer sadness at the loss of that pretty tree, I don’t know.

“I WANTED to go!” he exclaimed.

“I asked you and you said you’d let me know,” I replied.

“Why didn’t you ask AGAIN?”

I don’t know. No good answer at all.

We are all fragile in the lap of this world, seeking the solace and comfort of those constants, like the flowering trees that every year promise to begin life anew.

At Christ Church of Cranbrook last week, the pastor of that majestic baroque church said, “Your faith is your sight – what you choose to see.” And he added, “Love and respect for all human beings.”

I’ll take it a step further. Not just human beings, all creatures. Call it love, call it faith, call it belief in this world. If you chop one tree down, what’s to stop you from decimating a forest?

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