Bidding Farewell to an Old Friend

The time to say goodbye had come.

In an ice storm earlier this year, a massive branch of our fifty-year-old locust tree sheared off in a wind storm. We lost gutters and our neighbor part of his roof. The arborist told us he could trim the tree close to the trunk, but we’d be putting our money down a sinkhole. The tree needed to go.

Saying yes hurt. We were turning our backs on an old friend. My daughter had pumped herself to weightlessness on a rope swing suspended from a branch fifteen feet off the ground. The sweep carried her halfway across the yard. My son had played pirate in the tree’s branches, spinning himself dizzy when the swing was vacant. Each summer our patio remained cool beneath the canopy of shade the tree provided. Reduced to a stump three feet in diameter, the locust would be missed.

As winter warmed into spring, I made my annual trek to the garden stores, filling my basket with the usual assortment of impatiens, begonias, and hosta. I stopped midway down one aisle, remembering the sunscreen that once protected these shade-loving plants was gone. My thoughts turned giddy. Could I now grow lobelia, snapdragons, and pansies—sun-thriving flowers that before curled up their leaves and shriveled away like salted slugs?

I went wild buying color—russet marigolds, crimson petunias, purple verbena—the combinations were endless. I filled the area around the missing tree with artful containers: a bicycle planter, a strawberry pot, a pedestal vase. Fertilizer, composted soil, and careful watering produced results. Soon the patio blazed in a riot of coral pinks, coppery oranges and lemon yellows all circling the base of the old tree in tribute to a gone-but-not-forgotten friend. The sun reigned, the darkness had passed.

In much the same way, Jesus calls us out of the shadows when he invites us to follow Him. Our former sin shrouded us in darkness, but His forgiveness draws us into the light of His love.

In I John 1:5b-7 Paul writes, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.”

Wishing you sunshine among the shadows in your life today. 

2 Replies to “Bidding Farewell to an Old Friend”

  1. Pat,

    If you are on pinterest (and of course you are!), look up “stump garden”. We had an old maple, 140 feet tall, which was slowly dying. Three years ago, we had it taken down. We’d thought of making a table of the top, and having picnics there. But without a place to put knees, it wasn’t a practical table top for sitting. Tom bought chicken wire and tacked it around the stump’s top, extending upwards several inches above the wood. He lined the wire cage with moss, filled it in with potting soil and planted all sorts of stuff, flowering, fruiting and trailing, in the new stump garden. It’s the first thing I ever put up on pinterest. Doesn’t look as pretty anymore, since we haven’t continued to put in annuals, but there are still strawberries, creeping Jenny, some herbs and other various plants that remain.

    1. unbrokengod says: Reply

      What a clever way to decorate what could easily be considered an eyesore. Thanks for writing, Denise!

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