Even though our apartment is in the middle of the city, it feels rather like a treehouse on our third-floor back porch. We’re surrounded by trees, thanks to the scruffy patch of woods in the vacant lot behind our house and our next door neighbors’ small wooded backyards. There’s a couple of black locust trees, some kind of pine tree with long needles, and a huge Norway maple tree. Norway maples are a non-native invasive species. Invasives make me frown and grumble because they tend to cause problems for native wildlife and thus can endanger the diversity of local flora and fauna. So I have had mixed feelings about this tree behind my house. Adding to the sort of sinking feeling I would get when gazing at my Norway maple, the last several seasons, every single leaf on that tree developed black spots and fell off. This was not in the usual “my leaves are elegantly changing color because it’s fall” kind of falling off, but in a “ugh I’m sick and so I plummet” kind of falling off.
My daughter has a totally different attitude towards this tree. She loves watching the squirrels play in the branches and she loves listening to the woodpeckers hammer away at the trunks. She does not seem to mind the black splotches nor does she care that this tree is not native to the region. Her enjoyment has helped me realize that I can enjoy this tree too. I doubt it’s close enough to an intact forest to threaten any biodiverse ecosystems, so I can let my guard down about the whole invasive thing. I have begun to appreciate how peaceful it is, how lovely its green leafy shade is, even with the spots. And how resilient it is! Year after year this tree has weathered this disease and still it keeps growing, leafing out and starting fresh each spring. It is a home to wildlife and it shades my house in the hot summer. And so this tree is reminding me that even something supposedly undesirable and sick can still be beautiful, strong, and welcoming. Our worship theme for the month of October is “Belonging” and I have realized, even though this tree is diseased and invasive, it still belongs in my backyard. I always love a lesson from a surprising teacher, like a tree. What have been some unexpected teachers in your life lately?
It has been wonderful to get to sit down for conversations, coffee, and meals with several of you. Please do continue to reach out – I want to get to know you! Also, if you need to reach me, you can email me at email@example.com (some of you may still have Rev. Wendy’s name saved as the alias on that account in your email contacts – which you can go in and change! – and rest assured, your message is getting to me). You can also call me at the office 781 784 3652 ext 2.
Wishing you peace and blessings.