Rotten but Neighborly

The tree fell down, it’s milk-white bark shattered like china across my driveway.

I climbed out of the car to move the beautiful, rotten mess of a tree, my favorite kind. It had cracked in the middle of it’s trunk, moldy, dead. My son wields the larger branches like a sword and I grumble about dangerous beauty, an overabundance of old timber in my front yard.
A metaphor, and I’ve heard it before: The shiny white surface that we show to the world can hide the ugly rotten insides that we don’t want to touch, or show, or expose or deal with. I’ve always taken this to be a warning. Deal with my rot before someone sees, or before I break, or before I shatter.
But, I met more neighbors tonight over the fragments, over the rot, than I have since I’ve moved here, and weeded the front yard, and planted flowers, and pruned roses.
My pruned branches and vibrant pansies didn’t bring them to my door. It was the rotten tree that could have killed some one, exposed at last for the disease it was, that brought them over.
I will not be well for a long time, I will not be complete until I am dead. I can and will and want to deal with the Rottenness of Me, but that is holy work, slow work, God’s work.
Along the way, He uses our ugly when we stop wrapping it up in white and confess that what we really are…is a mess.
Derrick is cutting the tree down now, a clean cut, a new start.

23 thoughts on “Rotten but Neighborly

  1. Such a profound observation out of a mundane experience! We all have that rot, and it is well we deal with it before the trunk cracks and breaks! Thanks for stopping by my blog, Sweet Surrender. Congratulations on your pregnancy!

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  2. it is our vulnerability that holds the key to our holiness, our wholeness, our humanness…these are the aspects of self that allow others in, to truly elicit compassion…and what allows us to cultivate compassion for ourselves and then others too.

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  3. “But, I met more neighbors tonight over the fragments, over the rot, than I have since I've moved here, and weeded the front yard, and planted flowers, and pruned roses.” This reminds me of this post I have in my heart about the adult home and how it's my favorite place to go when my kids are driving me bananas. The more the kids scream their heads off, the more the residents love it. Baby screams draw the residents out of their rooms better than cake and icecream. It's a miracle. Really, I should just leave my kids over there.

    We went to the zoo yesterday and saw the ostriches, and I thought about you when one walked right beside the train. The conductor said the male ostrich can grow taller than 9 ft. Holy cow! I blogged about the zoo, but the pictures are few and far between and kind of sad because I remembered my camera but forgot the memory card, so I had to use my stupid phone.

    Oh, well. Sorry about your tree! Glad about Jesus working in you to get rid of all your bad stuff, though!

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  4. This is not only beautiful but bursting with truth. The tidy veneer we polish will become burdensome to keep up and soon we will have outgrown it in order to face the glorious messes that we are. Then the true, deep conenctions take root and grow.

    Great to have discovered you through imperfect prose.

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  5. Along the way, He uses our ugly when we stop wrapping it up in white and confess that what we really are…is a mess.

    you have so many good thoughts in there, but this one is my (current) favourite. how amazing is it that God uses our messes, not just as a marvelous demonstration of His grace but also to impact those around us.

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  6. I will not be well for a long time, I will not be complete until I am dead. I can and will and want to deal with the Rottenness of Me, but that is holy work, slow work, God's work.

    girl, this is so deep, and good. i will not be complete until dead. like the tree… and in our death, will come life (the neighbors)… how do you see these things? i want these kinds of eyes. beautiful prose friend. love you.

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  7. You have such a beautiful way with words. I want to give you a Stylish Blogger Award.
    Come over to my blog and pick it up.:)
    P.S. My other blog is mytworedheads if you are wondering why some random person is giving you an award!

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  8. These last four years as I've learn to examine and safely share my rottenness, I've discovered some of my deepest and most precious friendships. It's amazing who transparent need can bring out and draw to you.

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  9. oh, girl. sigh. how you move from humorous and witty to downright moving is amazing. you have a way. a beautiful way with rotting trees, and poopy diapers and funny husbands playing basketball. and sick dogs and the upheavels of a move and the scary and the obserd. you have a beautiful way.
    {hope the pup is feeling better.} xo

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