Hope is a Tree

When I ask her how things are going her smile tells me first.
Last night I dreamed that I was back home…and I was so happy that I danced!
She chuckles at the thought and I hear hope sing.
But there’s another whose wife is weeping in the hall and I press hard on her shoulder. Hope is slowly slipping away and I can’t dream it back. We pray together and I go home.
And when I pull into the drive I see that the winds have split our Bradford Pear. The leafy top of her branches out into the yard—broken from her spine. I stand on the porch with my husband and look.
It was rotten underneath, he says. I think that tree would have stood up to the winds if it wasn’t for that bad place. You never would’ve known by looking at it. I thought that was a healthy tree.
I move closer. Look at the splintered wood…run my hand over that soft dark spot that weakened the limb.
How do I get rid of this weak inside—these rotten parts that cause me to fall apart? When hope is in splinters and nothing seems to go right and prayers seem to bounce off of empty walls?
The man mowing my elderly neighbor’s yard sees me looking and he crosses the street to stand at my side.
Do you need someone to haul that off, he asks with a gentle smile.
He must know about some people and trees. I swallow back the tears in my leaky eyes but all I can think of is the day that tree was planted. Me, just home from the hospital and a brand new babe in the crib. How I stood at the window and watched that tree go in the ground.
So much hope planted right there.
When Abraham claimed the land in Beersheba, he dug a well and Genesis 21:33 says, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the Lord, the eternal God…
The tamarisk tree. A tree that spreads out over the years, providing much needed shade in that harsh region. The tree was his hope, planted for future generations. And my hope feels like this tree in front of me. Splintered. 
Yeah, I tell the man. We need it hauled off. But the whole thing must come down. The bad place is too big. 

It pains me to say it and he must know because he only nods and moves closer to the tree. He studies the dark brown place in the tree’s heart, rubs his hand gently over the soft bark. Then he turns to face me with that gentle smile.
What will you plant in her place?
My eyes meet his as the question falls over the tangle of bushy leaves on the ground. I raise my eyebrows. And for some reason, I think of my patient—her dream. I think of dancing.
Pin Oaks are nice, he says, still smiling.
And I know that hope is something that can be planted. Planted like a tamarisk tree. Or a Pin Oak. So I call on the name of the Lord, the Eternal One, and I take this tiny seed—this little helicopter of possibility—and I go looking for water.
And it makes me want to dance.

Blogging in community with Michelle and Jen today. Love you girls!

This week’s memory verse:

To download the memory card for James 2:2-3. Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.


  1. says

    Oh, Laura, I am so sorry for the loss of your lovely tree. We had a giant 75-year-old oak in our backyard (a pin oak, in fact) a few years ago that was rotten way up the trunk and had to come down. When it hit the land with an enormous thud I cried and cried. But then we planted a new tree in the same spot – a river birch. My husband Brad just commented yesterday about how leafy and broad the tree has grown – hope springs eternal.

  2. says

    Love your imagery of a seed as a “little helicopter of possiblity”. So sorry for the loss of a tree that held so much meaning. I have a hard time when i see people cutting trees down so I would’ve been teary too. As usual, such a lovely story.

  3. says

    We lost a Walnut tree this past year, right at the the edge of my porch. It was planted by my great grandmother and there is an emptyness now where walnuts once covered the ground. I think I, too, shall plant again and watch hope burst forth new and grow…

    Thanks for stopping by my place today! Blessings! 🙂

  4. says

    Bummer. Around our part of the world those Bradford Pear trees are known to break easily….not a strong tree, but certainly pretty. The Pin Oak is a STRONG tree, not so noticeable, but they can take anything. I have so many Maples and Crabapples…..both so pretty, slow growers, makes them stronger. I love to have our yard filled with color. Makes me feel better at the rate of my growth sometimes….slow, but stronger.

  5. says

    In our old house, the tree fell twice. On the roof. It terrified me. It’s incredible the way those trees can look so strong and dignified, standing there in the yard. But a strong gust of wind can bring it crashing down.

    Have you known your neighbor long? He seems like such a gentle man…

  6. says

    Trees do die, and planting a new one to take its place is a good thing. Death is replaced with life. When we die to our old self, there is a new life that comes forth.

  7. says

    “hope can be planted”
    I need to sow more seeds as i have come to realize that my issues are more a reflection of me than God. Thank you for this.

  8. says

    I was standing right there with you, Laura. Such a poignant telling of planting new hope, new life. “Little helicopter of possibility,” still smiling at that one. =) Have a precious day Laura.

  9. says

    A powerful analogy. We have a pine tree in our yard now that needs to be removed. The Pine beetles have killed it. Another lessons in not allowing the things of this world to eat us alive! Good Blog, good job!

  10. says

    “What will you plant in her place?”
    Such tenderness, wisdom, sensitivity, and exhortation in that one question. What a godsend. I will remember this next time I’m feeling without hope.

    (I know those wonderful helicopter seeds.)

  11. says

    I have such a thing for trees, because I have always lived in areas that are so hard to grow them. We spent $200 on a tree one year, only to have it die the next year.

    I could have died right then!

  12. says

    Wow. To take a simple moment in life that other people would just see as a nuisance and weave this beautiful story…
    I hope you find something beautiful to replace it 🙂

  13. says

    Oh, Laura. I’m crying. At lunch, a friend told me she is, essentially, as rotten inside as your tree. And she’s been hiding it so well (OK, sort of well).

    Please take a picture of the new tree when you plant it.

  14. says

    I’m thinking of a season ago, a time when we ate at the local Arby’s. I wrote about it in my new book… a chapter called “Hope Grows.” In it, I reflect on the living tree growing inside the Arby’s and how that tree chronicles some benchmark moments in the life of our family, in particular my cancer season.

    Anyway, reading about this “death” and the possibility of new life, well, it was just beautiful! Thank you for giving this to me.


  15. says

    so beautiful. I can imagine how this loss hurt and that vulnerable bruised reed of hope that sways in this world…and I know that you are one who, with me, loves the fight. You are growing strong in the deep places in that resilience that bears the mark of Redemption once for all and again and again in this life we live…Easter’s Glow–nothing is the same.

  16. says

    Your words are deep waters here:
    “You never would’ve known by looking at it. I thought that was a healthy tree.”

    Ah, such a statement about so many of us.

    Thank you for a lovely post, and the picture that completes it.

  17. says

    The cycles of life. Hopes dashed, then a new seed planted. I think we need this kind of reminder, that every time the branch crashes and the tree gets hauled away, the beginnings of new hope is out there, waiting. Although we may face some in-between time.

    You have such a beautiful way of writing, Laura!

  18. says

    Oh, Laura, sorry about the loss of your tree and what it represented. I love how you were able to claim hope anew and share that with us in your post.

  19. says

    Our first Christmas in a new house we bought a live fir and planted after the new year. Years later, we were packing the house getting ready for a move and I saw that it was weeping, turning brown. I will never drive by that house and see that tree. It’s life is over….and we’ve moved on.

    So many lessons in the trees—starting with the two that we planted in the Garden. No wonder we are so drawn to them.

  20. says

    I like the idea that hope is planted – it’s intentional, not circumstantial. And the reminder that, although all may look wonderful on the outside, the inside needs to be strong, or eventually all will crumble. I appreciate so much how your words are music. God Bless You.

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