I’ve driven past the same old tree a million times since I’ve lived in Shenandoah, but on Sunday, I actually saw it for the first time.
I was riding shotgun and happened to glance at the plot just north of Orscheln’s on Rye Street as we came to a stop — and there it was. Puzzled to see an enromous antique oil drum lid being swallowed by a tree, I hollered for my husband to back up so I could take a closer look.
He’s a patient man.
Enamored, I stepped out of the car and found great encouragement in what stood before me. Though outwardly maimed, the stalwart, remarkable tree in the photo above is an uncommon overcomer. In spite of its deformed appearance from the aged metal disc impeding its normalcy, it has grown around the hindrance to be a productive member of our community.
Clearly, its visage was first marred decades ago — I had made no new discovery. The tree is like a fine military member in camouflage on a quest to protect his sacred ground — and to defend those around him.
Year after year, the tree on Rye continues to produce leaves, participate in our oxygen exchange and provide shade for the house nearby, thus supporting lower electricity bills, right?
Countless trees and limbs in the area have been downed in storms over this guy’s lifespan, of more than a 100 years, yet he stands firmly-rooted in solid ground, defying adversity with amazing chutzpah.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the inspirational scripture, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.” from the book of Philippians in the bible.
Remembering that verse, I was taken back to when my son, Matt, was in first grade and I taught him the verse. He grabbed onto it like white on rice.
“Mom! This works for like NINE pages on my homework!” he declared.
His excitement in my memory brought a smile to my face and I recalled other verses as I beheld my object lesson: “The grass whithers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Just like that tree.
And, “You are my refuge and my shield, I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)
When I rocked up under its sturdy branches, I wasn’t expecting the tree to deliver a sermon, but peace and resiliency spoke from its whispering leaves.
Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.”
We’ve all had moments in our life where we felt like giving up or throwing in the towel, but not this guy. He remains determined to scratch the sky day by day.
Oh, sure the winds howl and hail pounds, squirrels scamper and dogs dig, but evidently, the tree on Rye has roots deep enough to stand up against anything that rolls into its yard — including a lug of sharp metal piercing into its core.
I’m more determined than ever to be relentless and to have the heart of the tree on Rye.
One more thing ... I hope that whatever you’re up against, whether it be a metal drum lid cutting into your space or a blustery storm from another direction, never give up. Impossible is just an opinion.
Kristan Gray is a staff writer for The Valley News.