Saturday started off in a peculiar fashion. At about 2:30 a.m. I woke to the loud sound of something hitting the ground behind my house. Simultaneously, I heard that strange electrical waving hum that heralds the electricity going off seconds later. And so it did.
I find the absence of noise bothersome. I usually listen to a news station from NY City at night or a “white noise” application on my phone. Utter silence doesn’t work for me.
I tossed and turned until daylight when we were still without electricity. I was so happy to see a Virginia Dominion Power worker in a cherry picker bucket working beside a crepe myrtle in my side yard area.
My genius husband made coffee by heating water on the gas stove and running the boiling water through our electric coffee maker. It worked perfectly! It would have been a grim morning indeed with no coffee. Some of the other neighbors wandering around all coffeeless kind of looked like zombies wanting to suck down my coffee instead of my brains. And can I say, later on in IHOP, it looked like a Shea Terrace Civic League meeting.
As I stepped out to investigate, I saw this sad sight in front of old Mrs. Lambkin’s 1920’s home on Idlewood Avenue right behind me. I believe she went home to be with God not too long ago and this tree must have been as old as she was.
At first I thought it took a lightning hit. However, a closer look showed no scorch marks. Sadly, the tree was rotting from the inside out. It had beautiful, silvery green leaves and looked just fine from the outside. The inside was rotting with unattended disease. Friday night to Saturday early morning was slightly windy and the poor tree just gave up the ghost.
I grieve every time we lose an old-growth tree, but I am thankful the old live oak came down in the middle of the night rather than on a busy daytime street with bikers, walkers, children, and dogs passing by.
Reflecting on that old fallen tree as we went on with plans away from the house with no power, I thought about when Jesus said:
You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
All sorts of folks walk around each day like whitewashed tombs or like that dying old tree. The outside can look great. That tree was leafed out in splendor.
Whatever is festering inside is not resolved. The disease grows. This dis-ease can be unaddressed long-term situations, acting without reflecting upon motives, unforgiveness, bitterness about our lot in life, family problems which we deny or ignore or dysfunctional relationships we would rather ignore than face the pain of fixing. We engage in obsessions or in activities to mask thinking about the problem. We prop ourselves up any way we can as long as we don't have to deal with the underlying issue. A drug of choice doesn’t always have to be an actual opiate. We hurt others in the process.
Left to grow untreated, the rot at the core can literally kill us via high-blood pressure, heart disease, etc. We can also kill relationships, dashing our own hopes and creativity in the process. Finally, like the tree, all comes tumbling down and we are lucky if others aren’t hit in the process.
Get rid of whatever is festering inside. Talk to a wise friend. Give it to God and let Him clean it out. Whatever you do, don’t leave it there.