Lately I’ve been distracted.

Pulled at. 

Parched.

The tiny portions I try to put back into my own tank have in no way made up for the amount that’s been spilled out.

The now hollowed-out spaces I am trying to fill on my own end up filled only with impatience, and worry, and fear,

and with a me I don’t like.

I’m snapping more, 

as branches do.

My voice feels hollow, and dried out from within.

I give up often. 

My white flag waves: 

a crack,

an echoing fall. 

The things I used to be, forming now into a dry pile on the ground.

My mother is moving.

After 11 years of living with us in our home, 

she is no longer able to afford living in this area, and is moving 3.5 hours away to live with my brother.

I have struggled with this fact so much, 

wrestled with it alone in the night,

awoken with my heart pounding just thinking of it.

The changes my family will face without her here are almost too much for my heart to bear.

I can barely talk about it to her, 

but 3/4 of my day is spent thinking on it,

and the weight of it is constant and pressing. 

Which is why when my friend Ori wrote today asking what she could pray for me about, 

my very first thought was my family’s future, these changes, this transition, peace.

For my sense of security to please, 

please, return.

Afternoon came and I decided to lay down for a nap. 

My body ached from the tension. 

If I could just sleep for a while, at least I’d have a break from it all…

But just when I started to drift off to sleep, 

it happened:

a thing that I will never forget.

Suddenly, when my mind was finally clear of every other thing, as I was drifting, 

as clear as if someone was speaking to me audibly, 

these seemingly random words came in. 

Now, 

as a writer, it is not uncommon for me to suddenly have a seemingly random phrase pop into my mind. 

I spent what felt like forever hearing 

“Ready, set, go” a few months ago, and it is still unclear what that meant.

But, to have these words be perfect poetry really caught me so off guard;

And this is what those words said:

“Gather up the Willow Brush that’s fallen to the ground.

Sometimes in what looks like fragments 

New life can be found.”

Again and again these words played in my mind. 

I turned side to side in the bed. 

But the words just kept playing.

Enough that it started, frankly, to freak me out.

What did it mean? 

Was there even such a thing as Willow Brush?

The phrase looped in my thoughts so much, actually, that I could no longer settle, 

and I decided to reach for my phone instead of sleep, to research Willow Brush.

To see what this could possibly mean.

After several minutes of Wikipedia searching, and a whole lot of facts on things like growth climates, and varying species, 

I found it.

The thing I was meant to see:

“Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings or where broken branches lie on the ground….One famous example of such growth from cuttings involves the poet Alexander Pope, who begged a twig from a parcel tied with twigs sent from Spain to Lady Suffolk. This twig was planted and throve, and legend has it that all of England’s weeping willows are descended from this first one.[4][5]

Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots may protect the bank against the action of the water. Frequently, the roots are much larger than the stem which grows from them.”

Upon reading further, 

facts on how in Christian culture, Willow Brush used in place of palm branches were mentioned.

A great symbol of our faith’s worship.

I stopped reading there;

just soaking in this imagery that had been downloaded straight to my heart and my spirit.

For months I have felt the life I am used to, crumbling. 

Bits of me, and my identity falling dead to the ground. 

My work changing, 

my baby suddenly an adult, 

my mom now going…

fear that I have been broken:

willow brush, laying unused, 

wasted.

But God, 

who has promised to waste nothing,

not even one tear,

through a lullaby written today just for me 

was reminding me that those things that felt like fallen fragments,

should I let Him gather them lovingly up from where they lay, 

were capable of growing roots much deeper than I stand tall. 

A new life where there appeared to be none. 

Of forming new protective borders.

Maybe not from the same old, trusted sources, 

but life from what looked, at first, maybe a little bit like a death, 

merely a graying wood pile.

Tears dripped from my chin in that bed looking at my phone as I thought, 

in awe, at how I have never once thought of or studied a single thing about a Willow tree.

How all I knew was that they were often “weeping,” 

…very much like me.

I never knew about the vibrant life that could come from just a sliver of their broken brush if planted.

A moment of sorrow, when nurtured, transformed into a majestic, interlocking, and protective forest.

But now, 

from “random” words on repeat in my head, 

my heart had some healing.

How often do we worry about something that looks like it’s falling irreparably apart? 

How many times will we see only fragments cupped there in our hands, trying to move the pieces to make something of them, 

all the while not realizing that what we are holding is actually a mighty forest’s beginning, and all we have to do is nestle them into the ground right where we stand 

and watch them grow?

How many beautiful things can we say started out looking like just tiny broken bits? 

But now…

And so, like this, are we.

With the power inside to grow new roots, 

and have new life that’s unseen at first glance. 

To interlock with fellow Ex-Brush Willows.

With the power to stand upright and planted once again.

Futures abundant and mighty, 

without a trace of the broken, dried up pieces we once were, 

and form a border together by the edge of the source of life’s water.

Maybe the Willows weep because they remember how little their faith was in the whole process.

How much time they wasted worrying over whether or not they’d stay there on the ground,

just as brush. 

My only hope is that I will one day use a part of whatever I grow into, 

in whatever place my roots dig in, 

as worship for the kind of God that once sung to me at nap time

The Lullaby of Willows.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. This resonated with me, and not just because I love plants and love learning the wonderful ways they’re designed. Two times in particular come to mind where I ended up a complete pile of broken branches (once after my brother got into trouble, again after a miscarriage). Both times God’s greater plan and endless mercy restored me into something stronger and greener.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for that.
      My very first willow brush moment was after my first miscarriage.
      I’m so thankful for aGod who wastes nothing.
      So thankful pieces of our pain, when planted corrrctly, can grow into the start of a mighty remembrance forest. ❤️

      Like

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