The Dead Tree & Other Recollections of Life

It’s hard to describe the crash, really. It didn’t sound like splitting into a fall. It just sounded like a huge thing loudly falling into itself and onto the ground simultaneously.

I’m standing in what used to be the goat pen while my son plays on its hillside. The goats have been sheltered on the other side of the house since late last year. So what lies on this hillside looks like fencing that needs cleared away, an old tire and fading platform for goats to play, dilapidating shelters made from this and that, and old gate doors with nowhere to go.

Hattie & Margie, our first two goats (Summer 2017) When our life was first growing into the old hillside.❤

The tree lies dead down the hillside where the goats used to play. It falls perfectly through two smaller trees that make a “Y,” avoids flinging branches onto our van, or even damaging the wire fence in any way. Amazing, really.

I love to see its thick, tired roots, the deep hole where the water stills pools. My son has been pulling barks off “the body” as he calls it. Insightful. Even in its last we smile and play around the tree, balance ourselves down its weary way.

It’s a magnificent statement of life.

Purple flowers stand a centimeter high and cheer the world though the rain has felt almost relentless. It mists softly on me now. We hope for sun soon. I’m struck with how sad everything looks around me yet this is the very place where goats have been born, and I have felt deep healing, and life has felt like it could begin again. Here I sat with a broken heart. Here I listened to Scripture songs. Here I held God’s good gifts. Here I laughed. Here I breathed.

what exactly do I call
water from
when I’m soaked through
with sun?

how do I explain the
collapsing in my soul
but me no longer at risk
to fall?

what’s the word for
dancing in dead fields,
and me smiling but longing for
all things finally

how does the empty
still feel like hope
when I’m holding it
in my hands?

what do you call peaceful
sounds on
that look like trailing
tear stains?

I’ve no answer,
but I do recall
sidewalk cracks and yellow
bursting forth and through!
I bet they had questions
too, but we just saw how
and somehow seeing was

-S.V.F. (Heartbreak Same Time as Dawn)

It’s been green on this hillside and baby goats frolicking with life. It’s been me waking up to it again. It’s been spring. It’s been good. And I have seen the mountain lion. I have processed the death of goats I held dear. I have said goodbye and thank you. It has been a hillside of seasons, a life of its own that helped me step into mine.

As my son plays and huddles in remnants of the goat shelter, delighting in the fallen tree, and exploring what this hillside has to offer, I think back to its beginning. Or the beginning as I knew it. I think how something can look so sad, but hold so much beating life.

One day the fence will be cleared and sooner than later the tree will be chopped and stowed away, the old goat dwellings will probably become playhouses and the doors may stay for imagination’s sake or they may be repurposed somewhere else.

But even though time has passed and with it life, it is still the reawakening of mine which swallows up the hillside and laughs at the dreary weather alongside the tiny purple flowers.

Spring 2018 in some of my brighter days of healing.💖

Splintered wood and mismatched pieces of old seasons remind me. Life. This is where the time has been. Its passage not without death, but as I stand on this hillside of aged and earthly things–it is the faithful reality of God’s blessing sinking deeper into me.

December 2019 when I was miraculously about 7/8 weeks pregnant with my son❤

I imagine in time to come it will be a hillside for children. I’ll tell them I watched goats give birth here. I’ll talk about Nigel and smile. I’ll still miss him. I’ll tell them how I heard the big tree fall. I’ll peek into the old goat dwellings at tea parties and seafaring adventures and marvel how one time I stood in what seemed like a ghost town but never could quite become one. Life. That’s where the time goes.

And I’m awake for it.

Do you think I can convince this little boy to come inside? Yeah, probably not. But maybe I’ll sweeten the deal with some coloring in the big upstairs loft.

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