Table Mountain Pine

Surreal. Unprecedented. Nightmare. Global Pandemic.

Racing to get my son from New York University as COVID-19 landed in the Big Apple and began it’s insidious journey marked for me the moment Coronavirus disrupted our daily lives. I imagined with great sadness that it would change life as we all knew it as I watched the city that never sleeps fall into a chaotic slumber.

Having a child with special needs and an elderly, asthmatic mother living in our home put us on high alert early as well. Within the next week all schools were canceled. Difficult in and of itself, closing a school for children with autism was and is an unparalleled challenge for families like ours. Wesley’s routine has been disrupted entirely. The one thing he can not tolerate well at all is the one thing we’ve had to do to keep him safe. And he just doesn’t understand why.

A Tuesday drive through Skyline Park was exactly what my soul needed. Steve and I embarked out on a mostly empty road scattered with occasional hikers.

At one stop there was a sign explaining the Table Mountain Pine tree. It read

I instantly became fascinated and fell in love with the Table Mountain Pine. They live in the rocky parts of the Appalachian Mountains where other trees fail to survive. They are dependent on fire to regenerate. The seeds of the Table Mountain Pine have a thick coating and can be dormant for years. They await the fire and only once the fire hits can new life begin. As the heat causes the thick coating to melt away they finally, and I imagine gloriously, release seeds ready for the scorched earth that has been cleared. There is nothing to compete with birth in the nutrient rich soil while it finds its roots.

God actually made trees that could only survive by and with fire. As people, we feel fire is the end of us. We can’t imagine how we will survive. We are sure everything will be taken and all we will have left is ashes. All we see is loss and destruction.

The Table Mountain Pine survives because God created it to persist not in spite of but because of the fire. He created it to endure, waiting several years for the heat and embracing it knowing the opportunity has finally come for the creation of new life. It can only do so on an earth that has been blistered and scalded having everything stripped naked and clearing the way for those precious seeds.

It endures because of the fire.

I have had the dubious honor of having times in my life when my world changed drastically and suddenly. I have been put to the fire more times than I wish yet enough to tell you this: there is rebirth in the process. There is hope that maybe not today or tomorrow but eventually it will get better. There is even hope that things just won’t get any worse. There is hope that you will be able to hope again.

My blog site is called patience to endure because I have found that all we really need is just that, that and God.

I have lived through the unsuspecting birth and subsequent raising of a child with significant special needs. I have lived through three times holding him in the hospital PICU begging God to not take my child. I have lived through driving my first husband 18 hours straight to get him to rehab for opiate addiction. I have lived through being the one to find him dead from suicide. I have lived through picking up those pieces and being a single mom for many, many years until God sent me the gift of a lifetime in the form of a soul mate disguised as an old friend.

The world has changed suddenly and drastically because of COVID-19. It is overwhelming and drains me to my soul when I think about the ramifications of this virus’ assault on humanity. My heart hurts for my oldest son who is attempting to pursue his theatrical training on line from his room rather than the exciting city of New York. I become melancholy when thinking about all the people who have lost their jobs and don’t know how they will pay the rent or buy groceries. I am crushed to hear the stories from Italy of doctors having to decide who lives and who dies because there is not enough equipment. I cry when I pray for all those battling the virus and their loved ones helpless to do anything.

We live with a heightened and unprecedented sense of fight or flight as we suddenly have to be aware of what we touch and what we don’t touch. It is exhausting. It seems hopeless. But it isn’t.

The Table Mountain Pine, my new favorite tree, knows the fire is the reason it was made. What if, just, what if, we were made for that too? What if this fire of a global pandemic is our opportunity to melt away the thick coatings around our hearts? What if within the ashes in which we now find ourselves to be is actually the perfect condition to rebirth and rebuild? What if this is the opportunity to burn away all we thought was important because we discover it really wasn’t after all? What if through all this we realize we can grow new priorities, new kindness, new compassion, and new love?

It won’t come instanteously and it won’t be easy. So much of it will depend on how we view it. We can look at the ashes and all we once held as dear as the remnants of a funeral pyre or we can see it as an opportunity to plant new seeds in barren but eager ground.

I choose life. I choose re-birth. I choose to let God determine if this is the moment for which I was made. I choose to not depend on my thinking as to whether or not I have lost too much knowing God will restore what was taken in His time and His manner. I choose to know I am strong enough because I know God believes I am. I choose to allow the fire to be the exact moment in the history of my life and the world to scatter my seeds understanding the new life may not be seen as quickly as I like but trusting it will appear in its time. I choose to allow God to give me the patience to endure.

The fire will change me. It always has and I don’t suspect this time will be different. How it changes me is about the only thing over which I have power.

Defeat or Victory.

Tragedy or Triumph.

Destruction or Regeneration.

The choice is mine. It is yours. Your children are watching closely, probably closer than you know. Choose wisely. Choose victory. Choose triumph. Choose regeneration not in spite but because of the fire.

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