There used to be a tree here.

blooms

On this hallowed ground, this refuge, there used to be a tree. We gathered on cool spring days, to admire her budding flowers. To find comfort when troubles were many. But the blooms made us forget our troubles, and in those moments, we remembered the good. Some days, I’d taking a flower, to go with the grace in my heart, I hoped. There used to be a tree here.

In the summer, we took refuge under her branches or climbed up into them to survey what was around us. She provided us with something we couldn’t provide for ourselves. She welcomed our laughter and held onto our sorrows. There used to be a tree here.

In the fall, we felt new again. We mourned as she began to lose her leaves fell but welcomed the time when they’d come again and bring us the blooms we loved so much. In those prior months, this place had become ours. Her open branches welcomed us to a place where tears were shed, laughter was shared and our friendships grew roots of their own. She had given us a new kind of hope and with grateful hearts, we kept coming back to her. Because now, her presence felt like home. We’d still come and lean on her back ‘til the frosty cold came.  There used to be a tree here.

In the winter, all was barren and cold. The cold kept us inside, longing for warmth and refuge. And yet we would still long to be at that place, under that tree, under her branches. For a brief moment, I would sit on her roots with a chai tea until all I could feel was bitter cold. We would pass by, on our way to somewhere else and long for the warmth of spring. We’d look to her and remember how to be resilient as she stood through the snow, through the bitter cold with bare branches.

There used to be a tree here. But they cut in down last year. We remember the blooms and the joy she gave us. And a hiding place to come together in the seasons. She brought us together. And I miss her more than words can say. There used to be a tree here.

flowers on flowers

Under Vaulted Ceilings

I’ve had this vision in my head, of going to a church one day to talk, alone. The church I walked into is large and vast. The kind that people go to tour and stand in awe of its magnificence. With high, vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows covering most of the walls, casting a tainted, colourful light. The kind of place where the floors echo throughout the space and the wooden pews creak when you pass by. I pictured myself walking down the empty centre aisle, my shoes echoing with each step. Walking to a row just past the centre and to the right and sitting down. Letting all the words out, all the questions–saying every last thing until there is nothing left to say. Of a peace at the end of my speaking, a knowing that I knew the answers all along. Standing up, satisfied, and walking out of the room before someone found me.

The reality is something much different. It’s a small chapel I found myself in instead. The only similarity is the wooden pews that creak every time you sit in them. There are windows of stained glass but they don’t contain any grandeur, but serve to mute in the bodies inside and let in the light. The carpet shows its age, the blue darkened by black in strange places. The walls are made of bricks, covered with names, with stories, with dollars, with prayers, with hope of some kind. After the fifteen steps it took to check the place for lurking strangers, I began to talk, my voice shook. All I’d wanted was to talk aloud, pray aloud, but now, it felt strange. I walked as I prayed, my right hand following the pews, looking for something to hold onto. After ten minutes of walking, I wasn’t out of words yet. So I sat on the top step of the small platform at the front, letting out my words and my tears.

I didn’t leave that chapel feeling like I had the answers. I didn’t leave sure of myself. I visited that chapel many times over the next few months and found that singular experience to be one of the most cathartic. Because that’s when I truly got to speak.

I don’t know how it started, but when my faith is shaken, I want to find a sanctuary. I want to talk it out until I’ve figured out whatever is burdening me. I want to push out the doors, renewed to help mend this place and the people around me. And often, the only strength I have is the strength to sit and gain my footing. I long for the closeness of a face to face conversation with the Divine. I want to see the way his face changes when I speak, is he angry that I dare utter these thoughts? Do the things that leave me broken bring tears to his eyes. I want to hear his still, small whispers more clearly. And I want to see the look in his eyes in those moments where he chooses to say nothing.