This Easter I am remembering. I am remembering painful memories and powerfully beautiful memories.
16 years ago, as I lived in Atlanta GA, I was undergoing some huge shifts in my life. I was quite disoriented and lost. One day I had a dream that I was a tree. I was a tree in a large field and a gardener came. And he came with an ax. He was loving and kind, but with great strength he chopped all of my branches off. Every single one.
I became a stump.
This was such a clear image for me and for 2 years I called myself a stump. Everything that was familiar to me or how I had identified myself was lost to me. It was a barren time, a naked time, a time of dying….or so I thought.
It was a long, long season of allowing to fully let go of parts of myself that I fiercely wanted to hang on to. It wasn’t a day, it wasn’t a moment – it was a long two years. And then one Easter Sunday I went to church. And I reflected on the Easter story. I suddenly had an epiphany. I’ve been living in Holy Saturday for a very, very long time. But that is not how the story ends. Easter is coming.
That was such a big shock to my being. Perhaps I wasn’t fully dead…how would my life as a stump change? I began to realize that as I had lived as a stump for two years, the silent and slow growth of deeper roots had formed without my awareness. The newly acquired quiet and hidden disciplines of spiritual direction, solitude, and listening had created new pathways for my roots to travel to, and I had begun to drink from what Brother Roger of Taize described as the ‘well-springs of life’.
The joy and shock of being alive was astounding. And a great curiosity came over me of what my tree would become now. I felt tender and new, vulnerable and fragile in my new growth. And I was. I realized there was a tender new shoot emerging out of a rough stump with wild and powerful roots. Growth is slow and invisible to the naked eye. But it is real. And transformation is possible.
Resurrection, being ‘born-again’ became a reality to my soul…….once I was dead, and now I live.
I feel the rings in my trunk from these past many years – a deepening and widening from living through many more seasons. But the strength of this tree continues to lie in the profound waters that I drink from. From these waters is the nourishment of my soul and the joy of my heart. My branches may fall and break due to storms or pruning that is needed. But my identity is no longer there….it is in the core of me that is flowing with life…..the life I am identified with is that from which I drink.
And so I am filled with gratitude for life, for life in fullness and abundance. I am grateful for the journey of being a stump and allowing myself to die so that I may truly know life.