There is a new hole in the park near my house. It’s not where you would expect it to be. It’s not a sinkhole, or a gopher hole, it’s not even in the ground. There is a hole in the sky. There was a mighty sycamore that stood in that park until last week.
A few years ago an equally mighty thunderstorm rolled through. We saw a flash of light and heard what sounded like an explosion! We knew the lightning had struck something. After the storm had passed we ventured out to see what had happened. The sycamore had been struck. A streak of fire from the sky had reached down earthward and she had reached back to absorb the strike. There was a deep gash down one side of her, pieces of wood lay in the street as if she had exploded from inside. When I looked closely though it looked more like someone had taken a giant chisel to her side. I was awed by the power she must have absorbed. Feeling saddened by her wound I picked up one of the pieces from the street and took it home with me to honor her sacrifice.
I have walked past her many times since that day and watched her closely that first year especially, to see if she would live on. She did, though I could see her struggle. A few of her branches died and her skin didn’t look as healthy, losing pieces here and there. Yet every year she produced leaves and seeds, continuing to grow and stand tall.
Until last week. I suppose it was because she is in a park where children play. Though I’m not sure why they waited as many years as they did. They cut her down. One day she stood there and the next she was in pieces on the ground.
I sat with her today. They left the pieces there. I was fascinated by the shape of the gash in her side; it looks just like a flame. It was incredible how I could sense the immense weight of her only until she lay in three segments on the ground. I don’t think I could have moved those pieces one inch! As I stood with my hands on her I could see the rings and feel the power and density or her form. I think she would have stood many more years so great was her strength, but the saw’s blade was more powerful even than lightning. I knew I had to just be there with her, to let her know her passing didn’t go unnoticed.
I bore witness to the death of a locust tree years ago too. They stand so silently, our tree friends, and provide so many gifts without thought of thanks. I gave her the smallest of gifts in return by just sitting with her, touching her, being with her. She was indeed mighty and beautiful beyond mere words.
As I walked around one end I noticed a small piece of wood sticking out at the bottom. I thought at first that it was stuck underneath that length of trunk, but as I reached down it came free in my hand. I don’t know what they intend to do with her now but I will always have two small pieces of her greatness to keep in a place of honor.