Monday, October 30, 2006
The wind is screaming outside. It sounds like a wounded animal. The rain is slapping hard and fast against the house and the ground, making a pattering noise that seems to give rhythm to the wail of the wind.
But I'm most interested in the trees.
I'm watching them out the bedroom window. Some are huge, thick and tall, lurking over our house like limby, extra-terrestrial creatures. Some are small, I can just see their tips through the high-set windows. All of them are whirling, like mad dervishes in the wind. Their dance is at once terrifying, beautiful, and fascinating.
I am wondering how in Hell they will survive. I am wondering if one of them will decide that today is their breaking point and come crashing onto the lawn, or the car, or the house. I am wondering how many times they've danced like this - in the mean, cold wind.
Their thinner upper limbs bend impossibly, like the legs of a contortionist. It seems like at times they are folded in half. Their trunks even sway a bit – giving in to the rain-soaked softness of the earth. But mostly, they sustain, as the wind beats at them – angry and screeching. They stand, even the smallest, stretching tall, into the breath of the storm – almost craning into the pouring rain. I watch some branches fall – mere twigs as well as giant pieces – and I watch as the trees they fall from just stand there, so solid. I see one tree that has fallen altogether. The scene makes me feel so strange.
The trees remind me of those of us who live with chronic or life-threatening illness. Many days bring the wind and the rain – and we stand there, strong, flexing ourselves against it – reaching into it. Even the smallest of us knows to bend in the wind, to stretch toward the cold, hard rain. Sometimes, we win – the wind and rain barely move us, sometimes, we're tested – the storm tears something off, sometimes we lose - and we're knocked down.
Could it be that simple?
If it is, then there are days after the storm when we bask, like victorious warriors in the warm sun. There are days when we are nourished by the soil that holds us – that fosters us. And there are days when the wind and the rain are so sweet and soft, they're like the hands of a lover or a mother – letting us know that there is still something kind, something gentle in this world that is ours alone. And there is a day when we'll fall – and something new might grow from us.