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

An Understanding: The Impact of Story

In November 2012, I found a webseries called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It’s a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, with Lizzie as a 24 year old grad student. I happened to tune in for the first episode to feature Darcy (the proposal scene in the book) and was so impressed that I kept watching…and fell in love.

One year ago today, a video called An Understanding went up. It’s a really touching scene between Lizzie and her youngest sister Lydia, showing depth into the character of Lydia and the strain that separated the sisters. (If you follow the book, they adapted Lydia and made some different choices, but grew her into a fully fleshed character, while remaining faithful to her book counterpart. Someone I loved and cared for, rather than misunderstood and pitied) In this part of the story, Lydia is dealing with profound hurt and the way she talks about it connected with me instantly. I’m trying to avoid spoilers in my description, so bear with some of the vague description.

I remember, I was sitting in the quiet computer lab that day, just finishing up my homework and eager to watch the video before grabbing lunch with friends. Halfway through my eyes filled up with tears and at the end, I couldn’t push them away anymore. Initially I had been excited because at eight minutes, it was one of the longest videos to date. But those eight minutes were filled with some of the best acting and storytelling I’ve seen. The last lines of Lizzie and Lydia connect with me, through the heart and emotion given. Rachel Kiley wrote most of the Lydia arc and I have to give credit, her writing made Lydia beautiful. She wrote An Understanding and it definitely showcases her talent.

I’ve only been able to watch this episode a few times since it aired. One time, I made the mistake of watching it when I was early to an event and I wept in the hallway of a church (those last lines y’all, they do me in). Ultimately, I love what it shows me about the value of love, that there is no mistake too large for love to not hold us.

Mary Kate Wiles, the actress who plays Lydia wrote up a reflection about that day which you can read here.