A Tree Planted by Water

There is no remedy for going home.

I know this northward stretch of I-79 through the eyes of my soul.

Intimate facets of my life race by in the spaces between the trees—light reflecting off this heart of glass.

Memories echo along the valleys, healing truths shout to me from the tops of the hills…

I drive willingly into the past, extending this hand with trembling.

There is music and laughter and snacks as we begin our journey to my hometown.

But the trees look the same as we descend the hill into the hollow where I spent my childhood–and this quiets me. I realize I am holding my breath as we drive past familiar landmarks.

This place knows my secrets.

My sister follows behind us with two of her girls. It gives us strength to come to this place together.

Hugs are exchanged and words bandied about.

My two brothers come. Nephews and sons reacquaint. In their saunters I recognize our former selves– Brothers, sister and me…the great explorers of these woods.

It goes okay.

My husband tries. And for this I love him even more.

My family is not easy to talk to.

As we drive away, I feel relieved and mystified. Some things I will never understand.

We listen to the Counting Crows on our way and the lyrics of Adam Duritz haunt me:

I got bones beneath my skin, and mister…
There’s a skeleton in every man’s house
There’s a dead man trying to get out
Please help me stay awake, I’m falling…

Asleep in perfect blue buildings
Beside the green apple sea
Gonna get me a little oblivion, baby
Try to keep myself away from me

It is true that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to going home.

I overthink, overfeel, try too hard…

Gonna get me a little oblivion, baby
Try to keep myself away from me

But Mr. Duritz’ remedy won’t work for me.

Forgetting is not the answer.

I need to remember.

Along I-79 there are places where the rock makes towering walls on either side of the road. It’s difficult to make a path through such a hilly terrain. The rock is terraced to reduce the danger of falling boulders.

On the way home today, I am noticing these trees. They grow up through the rocky crags on these terraces. The roots of these trees are not always strong, and so many of them fall over, or grow crooked.

But every once in a while, I see something different. In the middle of a rocky cliff, I see a beautiful evergreen tree rising. Perfectly symmetrical and lovely in form.

The roots of this tree must have searched hard to find the nourishment required to grow such beauty. This tree prospered despite its birth on rocky bed.

Beloved, my roots might have had to reach far and search long to find that fertile ground. But it was there. And when I choose to see that fertile ground, I am happy.

In this coming year, my desire it to see the good things in my past.

There is beauty there.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8)


  1. says

    hmmm, words that connected with my journey to have good memories of my early years. I keep praying, for anything, anything other than then the ugly. I honestly don’t know if I will ever have those memories—but God is making it okay if I don’t. Thanks for your encouragement on my post. You certainly express your words better than I—but I find a connection to bits and pieces of my heart when I come here. thank you sweet Laura! Onward we go, because He goes with us, before us and all around us. He is my rock, the shelter I run to…His love embraces me and far outshines what has not been.

  2. says

    The tree of Life…there are so many references to trees and their relation to our spiritual nature throughout Scripture…in fact, from Genesis all the way through Revelation.

    The Family of God is likened to an Olive Tree…

    God’s Law is the Tree of Life.
    Proverbs 3:1, 3:18
    Psalm 1:1-3

    Revelation 22:1-2

    I’m sorry…I’m rambling – 🙂

    This is a beautiful post Laura! 🙂

  3. says

    “The roots of this tree must have searched hard to find the nourishment required to grow such beauty. This tree prospered despite its birth on rocky bed.” God can grow beautiful trees anywhere.

    Your post has brought to mind a song on an old Evie record – The Tree Song (OK..I’m dating myself). The chorus said: “I’ve got roots growing down to the water, I’ve got leaves growing up to the sunshine, And the fruit that I bear is a sign of the life in me. I am shade from the hot summer sundown, I am nest for the birds of the heaven. I’m becoming what the Lord of trees has meant me to be, a strong young tree.”

    “I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge: that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV).

    Rooted in Him,

  4. says

    Thanks for opening yourself up like that and sharing your feelings and thoughts about your going home for Christmas.

    I love that passage about trees and us. I use it at the bottom of my instructions for how to take care of the different flower beds at church.

    I know about trying too hard. I think lots of us do that. Praise God that we don’t have to please him to receive his love.

    Have a blessed new year,

  5. says

    Hi Laura,
    I related all to well with your post. I think I understand too that longing to be held this time of year especially.
    A few years ago, I was really down in the dumps “wishing” that my Dad was … a real dad like my friends all have. (Mine has never been dad to me, and we’re strangers now.) Anyhow, I went to thee alter one day, and poured my heart out to God. He met me there… and told me, “Don’t worry about him… I’m your REAL DADDY.” That day redirected my need. But I have to admit, now that my Mom passed away…I wish my earth Dad woulda stepped up to the plate. He never did.
    Just imagine one day to go “HOME” THE HUG we’ll both receive.

  6. says

    As I read your words, I think of LL Barkat’s “Stone Crossings”…a book I am reading now about her personal journey of grace, coming from a very troubled childhood. She’s a primo writer, and I know you would love her book.

    Beautifully written as usual.


  7. says

    “The roots of this tree must have searched hard to find the nourishment required to grow such beauty. This tree prospered despite its birth on rocky bed.”

    What beautiful words. Searching hard… brings growth and prosperity no matter the circumstances. I love it.

    Keep on searching my sister. I love it when God can change me in the midst of my same circumstances.

    Your honesty and openness is a blessing to many.

  8. says

    Traveled with you. Felt like I too was returning to the past. Keep going back – one day you will know the journey was worth it all…

  9. says

    Yes, my friend, you are so right….. Papa God wants to speak the truth to those painful memories. He sees you in all you were meant to be. He’s coming for you in those deep places…..

    Love ya, girl!

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