Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My dread was gone

The hole in the tree grew bigger with each cut. The tree stood in our neighbor's front hard. I cut into it aimlessly, out of boredom, pealed back the bark and dug deeper with my newly found Swiss Army knife. What else can a 10 year old do on a warm Sunday afternoon with a Swiss army knife but cut a hole into the membrane of a tree? Each slicing of tissue released a bit of brown ooze. My hands became sticky with sap. Suddenly the wound looked big, really big, as big as a dinner plate. The sight of that enormous injury woke me from my trance. I heard my little sister's voice, What if they see you?  The tree now looked deformed. And my God, I was the deformer. If they found out, the neighbors who lived there would tell my parents. My mother would fly into a hair-pulling rage. We ran. The injured tree grew under my eyelids that night until sleep finally took me. The next day, walking home from school, there stood the tree, its trunk bandaged like a wounded soldier. I tried not to look but I felt its dim awareness of me, heard it heave and sigh as I passed, felt sorrowful eyes on my back. Every day, my pace quickened as I approached the tree. I had asked my sister to keep silent. She was kind, understood the dire consequences for me. From time to time, her silence required a small favor, but I felt grateful. As the weeks passed, the tree became the only thing I knew on that street. The houses and lawns, the fences, everything disappeared behind that deformed, now hallowed, tree. From the church, I brought Holy Water and poured it next to the trunk. I focused my gaze on the wound, prayed that God would hurl His healing power up through the roots, into my presence. Then, under the ground, under my feet, the roots squirmed and swallowed. That is what I felt and my dread was gone.