tree wounds

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

-Rumi

My summer working in the woods of Washington ended a few weeks ago and then I had a sweet but bitterly short visit home before being swept off to another local…and I’m feeling wounded.

Wounded because I loved the work, the location, and the crew I worked with in Washington.  Wounded because there are so many people at home that are so hard for me to be distant from now.  And it is not because what I left both for isn’t something wonderful (it is wonderful, and still somewhat related to forests…more on that in a future post soon), but the wound is something real…not something I am trying to be over-dramatic about.

While walking in the woods this summer I noted a lot of tree wounds.  The particular forest I was working in had a lot of dead & down wood, partially due to the soil type & depth and tree type the forest consisted of.  All that is to say – a lot of trees have fallen over the years, leaving wounds on other trees on their way down.

It got me to thinking (as most things do) about what metaphor might be hidden in these observances.  Part of me saw these wounds and identified with them…I was already anticipating how I’d be feeling with my upcoming endings and beginnings.  But, more than anything else, I was struck to distraction by the beauty of these wounds.  Their architecture was something fine and intricate, like a work of art.  The ooze of pitch and sap seemed akin to human tears (how do our eyes know to cry and also know that it is the most soothing catharsis for sadness?)  In many instances, I was in wonder at how I could see life growing out of their wounds – a sapling sprouting from a burnt stump, insects making a home out of a fallen log.  Even the odd shape of some of the wounds seemed to me a unique song, that tree’s particular cry of sorrow – a lovely, melancholy tune.

And I started to wonder about the delicate beauty of a bleeding heart (figuratively) and further pondered what God might have to say to us about wounds.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18)

This has long been one of my favorite passages of scripture.  It came to mind when considering the tree wounds…and my own wounds.  I don’t always know (or rather I rarely know) the purpose behind the wounds I have in the moment I have them, how God intends to use them for good.  But I try to recall this verse to mind, try to see the wound (no matter how deep it is) as something “light and momentary” choose to believe that it is part of my inward renewal (even when it doesn’t feel much like it), intended to grow my heart in ways that can enable me and others to experience eternity (glimpses of God) on earth.

I don’t know what the trees get out of the deal when they are wounded, but I for one feel that the most important life chapters I’ve gone through and the most important relationships I’ve developed have involved being wounded in some regard.  The wounds propelled me to bravery. The wounds forced me into openness with others, to lean on others, to honestly admit that I need these others and hence give them the gift of knowing they are needed (I have been the recipient of this gift too).  It is a blessing to bear with one another like this…strange as it sounds…the carrying of wounds in community becomes a place for fellowship to flourish.

Perhaps we need to be wounded to become our full selves, our most beautiful, unique, noteworthy selves.  Quite honestly – I don’t think I would have noticed those individual trees, would have paid them any mind, would have been blessed by their vulnerability had they not been wounded.  I feel we can say the same of ourselves.  Somehow it is the way we are wounded that speaks the loudest, that sings the most brilliantly of our individual story.

If you find this dubious, think of a time where you deeply connected with someone over some shared painful experience…wasn’t that a deeper bond felt than bonding with someone over some shared glad experience?  I am not sure why this is, but if you really consider the difference, I think you’ll find that wounds bind you deeper with others than the glad times do too.

What am I getting at with all this?  I don’t know, I guess I am trying to see the wounds I feel right now as a necessary and even somehow sweet part of my story.  To feel pain after all shows that we are alive, and for me to have these wounds for missing others is evidence that I have great people in my life that are hard to be away from…that are impossible not to miss as much as a deep wound.

I’ll gladly take the wound thanks.

You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.

-J. Green

 

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