In our woods, an 80 year old spruce tree was blown over in a big wind. Carpenter ants had taken up residence in the hollow core of its base. The old tree was at the end of its life and went down pinning a young birch to the ground without breaking the trunk. Unable to continue growing upright as it had been, the young birch regained its reach-for-the-sun growing pattern by developing latent branch buds into three upright stem trunks. The original trunk, now lying on the ground, died off like a shaded branch might do. This created an unusual shape to this birch tree as it coped with this life event using natural patterns within itself. Its original pattern of creation combined with the Life Force to re-create a living tree.
When I saw this event in the woods, I was reminded of my father’s death. I was nineteen and a student at Michigan State University when he, at 43, fell in the parking lot of his work place and died of a heart attack. Like the young birch tree, I was laid low by his falling. I was damaged but not destroyed. I struggled in school for another year before I had to accept that my direction in life had been irrevocably changed by my father’s death. The coping mechanisms within the birch tree and myself are still mysterious to me, but, the resulting growth of the birch has produced something of rare beauty—uniquely shaped, instructive in its resiliency and powerfully dedicated to Living.