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Old Oak and Ice Storm
Photo: Elena Elisseeva
Recently, we had a rather devastating ice storm here in Iowa. For two days and two nights, my husband and I were without power in our house. As anyone knows, whenever you lose your power, it is more of an inconvenience than a calamity. At first, we just went through the usual acts of turning on a light switch in vain or turning on the stove, only to be reminded of our near pathetic reliance on electricity for our daily activities. After the first day, however, the inconvenience was steadily replaced by more crucial details such a how to actually keep warm.

Still, the greatest pain of the whole experience was not the removal of conveniences, or even the discomfort of the cold. The biggest tragedy was to the hundreds of trees that lost giant limbs due to the weight of the ice. Every few minutes we would hear a loud crackling sound, resembling a gun shot, coming from various locations of our property. Rushing to the window, I would find yet another branch fallen, leaving large exposed wounds in the trunk. Each crash brought a surge of pain to my soul.

Spiritual Connection with Trees

I think I must have some sort of spiritual connection with trees. Not in a reincarnated sort of way. No, I don’t believe that I was once a weeping willow in another life. I just love trees. But I couldn’t help noticing that my lament was not shared by a lot of other people. Mostly, I heard people saying things like, “What a mess!” as they saw the cleanup involved in removing the piles of wooded carnage. But I actually grieved over the injury to friends. Trees that I’d watched grow along with our children.

One tree stood out during this invasion of ice. It was an oak tree. A very large, very old, very majestic oak tree which we had many years earlier named Old Oak. As the ice splattered on windows and walkways and roads and trees, I had watched Old Oak standing stable and seemingly untouched by the blast. As I looked at the tree, I almost sensed a message of encouragement being conveyed from Old Oak to the younger, weaker trees around it.

Hold on, it seemed to say. You may be broken, but you are not conquered. You may be wounded, but you will heal stronger than you were before. I have been broken too. But my brokenness has made way for even more branches. Branches which reach out even farther and touch other trees around me. I’ve been wounded too. But my wounds provide a symbol of healing to other trees around me. I’ve been cold, but I’ve never known the sun not to reappear and melt the ice into puddles at my base. Puddles which eventually strengthen my roots.

I was so moved as I realized the correlation between Old Oak and Jesus. Jesus stands with us in every storm. When we are at our breaking point, he reminds us that he was broken too. For us. He reminds us that, like him, our brokenness can make us stronger and our influence more far-reaching. When we are wounded, he reminds us of his wounds, and that it is by his wounds that we are healed. (1 Peter 2:24) When we are cold, he reminds us that the warmth of the Son always reappears to melt away the storm, and eventually to strengthen our roots in his love.

I still lament the loss of those tree limbs, but I’m thankful for the lessons I learned from Old Oak.

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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