the little tree that could

There is this spindly little tree about a third of the way up the hill of our backyard.  It started from nothing, less than nothing, but in nature’s own way sprouted in the middle of the steep bank outside our back door, much too close to the house.  Mark took notice of it from the beginning, but honestly, I never thought it would grow.  Our dense, rocky soil, and strange sun patterns, along with the abundance of weeds, seem unlikely to encourage growth.

Yet, grow it did.  Poking, pointy, bristling through the underbrush, it reached for the sun, made space for the air.  It only took a few months, and truly, it demanded we begin to pay attention.  Mark did.  He continued to tell me of this little miracle, but I didn’t believe that it had any chance.

If it was going to survive it needed to be moved.  It was much too close to the house, and Mark had this vision of it growing tall and strong like the others that border our yard.  He dug up that tiny tree, tried to make a ball of its roots, and tenderly made a home for it thirty feet up the hill.  He did this without giving much thought to the season or growth of the tree, and neither one of us are studied green-thumbers. Even as I write this, I can’t claim to know the right time for transplanting, though I do recall that this was not it.  It went dormant as fall gave way to winter, shedding its leaves like the rest of the landscape, and as it turned brown and shriveled, I was convinced that this tree was dying a small death at our hands.

It was with complete disbelief, then, that as the sun stayed a bit longer during these spring days, green buds popping on old weathered trees, that I watched this tiny tree of ours offer its own green promise.  I called Mark to the window; pointed dramatically to his faithfulness.  He smiled.  Three or four weeks now this tree has been stretching skyward with green shoots and it isn’t stopping.  Standing taller than me, it still needs to thicken up, gain strength in the middle, and though it is still a fraction of the size of the two pear trees that keep it company, I harbor nothing but respect for its innate push to grow.  Even my doubt and skepticism, our lack of common horticultural knowledge, couldn’t squelch that.

This is how our yard is: rag tag success and bag-of-tricks surprises.  Hardly a traditional lawn, our green is made up of a wide range of common weeds and moss. This week the Littles threw themselves into this mess and gloried in picking flowers to bring inside, shoved into jars of water, and adorning every window sill.  Don’t tell them that these purple beauties are just weeds, that these yellow balls of brilliance are just common dandelions.  To us, it is all part of God’s painstaking handiwork — a reflection of how he grows us, too, weeds and all.


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