Message From The Trees

They say every 100 years there is a great storm
They say the winds are so destructive
That they could knock down an entire forest
As a tree myself, well, I’m concerned,
Especially since the clouds have begun to hover
Dark and ominous above me

Lately, every waking hour,
I find myself thinking about this storm
Fearing it
Staring up at that great expanse of grey apocalyptic sky
In hopelessness
The thing about being a tree is
You aren’t able to run from danger
If a fire or a storm is headed your way
The only thing you can do is sit there and wait for it to hit you
And pray that somehow, miraculously, it doesn’t
It’s like in the movies when the character’s been kidnapped and tied to the tracks
And they’re waiting for the oncoming train
Waiting for impact
That’s how I feel lately
Like I’m waiting for impact

I guess I must’ve jinxed it, thinking about it so much
Because the next thing I knew
I felt the first few drops hit me
Light as could be
But boy did those clouds look heavy up above

I closed my eyes
Panic rising in my hollow chest
And that’s when they all fell
An entire ocean raining down
Heavy as buckets
Pounding against my head
Water turning colder, turning to hail
Bits of ice falling
Like so many sharp pieces of glass against my skin

And then the winds came
I’ve never felt such winds in my life
I dug my roots into the earth as deep as i could
And held on fiercely
I saw two trees in front of me break in half with an awful SNAP
And the third tree – my neighbor, my friend – Isabelle – fell straight over
How gracefully she fell
Like a ballerina on point
Who had lost her footing
But at a deathly cost

I was afraid
I looked to the left to my brother
And the right to my sister
They were both as terrified as I was
I reached out two branches
And intertwined my arms with theirs
We steadied ourselves
With the three of us linked together the wind seemed like less of a burden to carry
But around us our friends, neighbors and strangers were still struggling
Losing limbs
And so we reached out our arms to them
One by one
Each tree adding to our chain link
Our offering spreading down the line like a wildfire of hope, until it reached the very last struggling tree

The entire forest was now one unit
Bearing against the turning of the tides
Oaks, Elms, Pines, Junipers
It no longer mattered what we called ourselves
We were no longer divided by names
We were one
All around us the storm raged
The air a battleground
But somehow I felt steady
I was a part of something greater than myself
And that made me stronger


Eventually the storm passed
And we all sighed in exhaustion
Some of us weeping
Some of us laughing
Some of us in a state of shock
Slightly out of our minds, numb, and invigorated all at once

Water covered the soil below us like a newly formed lake
Looking down
I caught a glimpse of my own wavering reflection in a puddle between my roots
And I realized that I had lost all my leaves
My beautiful leaves
My oranges and yellows and greens
All gone
I was only wood
I didn’t recognize myself
Who was this barren trunk, strong like a brick wall?
This warrior woman
With the sharpness of truth blazing in her eyes?
The longer I looked
The more I realized
That something deep had changed inside of me
My leaves would grow back
As leaves always do
But I would never again be the same tree
For I had been a part of something that was greater than myself
And that had made me stronger

-Lucy Schwartz