A mighty tree has fallen

A mighty tree has fallen.

fallen tree

It wasn’t the oldest tree in the forest, but it had over twenty years of growth. It was the mightiest tree I’d ever been a part of growing.

It was my marriage. Which has ended.

In so many ways, it was a great and strong marriage with deep roots in shared backgrounds, faith, values, creativity, and parenting. We lived so much of what we’d vowed twenty-one years ago.

But like many trees that look strong but fall down anyway, there was a problem at the core. A hollowness that weakened the tree where nobody else could see it. A secret grief that the tree knew was there, but didn’t know the extent of, so attempts to fix it couldn’t succeed.

hollow core

This makes it sound all nice and natural and inevitable, but the truth is that it’s horrible and sad. A mighty tree has been ripped from the ground that nurtured it: it has died.

I draw encouragement from the forest, where trees, both mighty and new, fall all the time.

fallen trees in the forest

Those trees do not fall in vain. Forest creatures use them for shelter and find food in them.

broken down tree

They break down and provide nutrients for growing plants.

decomposing tree

I could say something about hoping that I will still shelter, feed, and even nurture new growth, but I don’t have the energy for that. I am still in the midst of the grieving and anxiety. The detritus that got kicked up hasn’t settled yet.

* * * *

Even in the midst of this, there is good news. The publishing company known as West Olive Press made its crowd funding goal for As Real As It Gets, so our illustrator, Joel Schoon-Tanis, will get to painting and we’ll publish our picture book next year. And I found out yesterday that I got a writing job (part-time for now, hopefully full-time to come).

I’m doing a lot of just taking the next step without trying to look into the future, which is unusual for me, because the future hasn’t been sullied by reality yet, so it’s fun to imagine.

Here’s to taking the next step, even in the midst of grief and anxiety.



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18 thoughts on “A mighty tree has fallen

  1. Beautiful imagery, my friend. May a Gracious God hold you close through your grieving and bring you comfort until Peace.

      1. Natalie, such a meaningful metaphor. Your sharing of this raw experience is incredibly moving. Sending sister-love your way. Carmen

  2. Glad to hear your good news, and continued grief for your sad news. Your words are stunning. And you are so, so loved. Grace to you and peace.

  3. What a lovely post about a heart-wrenching period. It may at times feel like numbness, or anger, or sadness, but those are all a part of bravery. And you are acting bravely, for yourself and your family. Your integrity in facing this speaks volumes about your strength and your character.

    A mighty tree may have fallen, but you are still growing. Never forget that.

    Be well, my friend.

  4. I’m very sorry for your pain, Natalie. I have another tree story for you. We had a massive maple in the back corner of our lot. Little thrived under its mighty canopy – even grass and weeds were sparse. And yet, there was a little dogwood hanging in there. It had leaves, but that was about it. And it was among the first to lose them every autumn. And they didn’t even turn red – just brown, then fall. When we built our FROG (garage with free-room-over), to our dismay, the maple had to go. It was a big ole beauty, but it was in the only buildable spot on our property. This was 2006, and I still have a bit of the firewood harvested from it.

    After the maple came down and before we broke ground, we had one of those sliding spade trucks come and move a few other trees along our lot line, and the operator asked about the dogwood. I’d presumed it was too sickly to bother with. He said he’d throw it in for free if we had a spot to put it. We did – one of the few sunny spots, well sheltered from the wind, too. My story’s end probably won’t surprise you, but I’m hoping it’ll hearten.

    So what happened? It struggled for a few seasons, probably having severed some of its anchoring roots, trying to orient itself to a brand new circumstance. But before we knew it, it was adding leaves – more than ever. And in the fall they blazed to scarlet rather than brown. Then one spring, for the first time since we lived there – maybe in its existence – it bloomed! Just a few snow-white blooms that first year. Then more. Now each spring, and each fall, we marvel at the glory of that tree, saved from struggling in the shadows, thriving in the sunlight.

    Congrats on the new job and the successful campaign. You’re already a marvel. I wish you peace and thriving to come, my friend.

  5. Just read this post, Natalie. So very sad for all of you. This is, indeed, a difficult season, but you have a thriving spirit. May your faith, your spirit and God’s spirit sustain and nourish you while you move forward. You all will be in my prayers.

  6. Natalie, I just saw your post and I am sorry for your heartache and I will pray that Jesus will bring you all the strength and courage you need to move forward. Your ability to express your feelings and bring others into your world, never ceases to amaze me. You are strong, even when you feel like collapsing.

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