Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Practice of Hope

It was just a small tree -- small enough to fit into her car. But it was perfect and I knew just where it would go. The best birthday presents are those that live on, and little did I know that this Sycamore tree would become my “Tree of Hope.”

It came in a big pot, tied to a stick that kept it straight and kept it from bending and breaking in the wind. It’s trunk was still small, bendable, and needed support. A few years before, an old oak tree had died, and I chose that place for this new, perky tree. And so, it was planted, stick still in place, with the hopes and dreams of someday seeing a large shade tree in my yard.

Hope has visions of what tomorrow looks like. The maturing of what is, the reality of our faith, the flowering of our buried seeds. And I knew what my Sycamore was to look like --- tall, wide, full of large leaves that would shade a hot summer yard. Hope works towards that end reality, watering, feeding, pruning, etc.

Storms came with wind and rain, sometimes gently, refreshing a thirsty plant, but sometimes violently, as if intentionally trying to break its spine and loose its roots from the ground. I wondered. . .and I hoped. But that stick remained strong and steadfast, keeping my tree in place through each and every storm. It grew taller, and that spindly trunk was now thick and strong.. . And I noticed that the supporting stick had broken away from the tree, its job finished and complete.

Shortly after this, a friend shared her fears as a young boy she had mentored and loved was about to make decisions that she felt were beyond his ability to make. She wondered if there had been more she could have taught him, had her love been enough, could he walk through this strong and unbending? I related the “stick story” to her, and told her she had been the supporting stick to her little “sapling”, and that he was now able to stand strong through the storms. And we stand back, and we wait . . . And we hope. . . With a hope that sees what tomorrow looks like.

Sometimes, between our hope as we plant our dreams and the fulfillment of our vision, a storm will come that seems to test us beyond what we feel we can bear. For me, it was breast cancer and all that goes with it.
Hope? At times it seemed hope was all I had to hold on to, and at other times, I wondered if my stick would hold me up. Chemo was a very strong storm, harsh and unrelenting. Six treatments, six rounds of nightmare material, six times wondering if I’d make it through. I remember looking out my window at my tree ----- my beautiful Sycamore tree ---- and I saw it suffering along with me. I had planted it much too close to my septic tank, and its roots were taking up the waste of my chemo! It’s leaves were curling, burnt brown all along the edges. Some fell, but most hung on, looking about as badly as I felt. Fall and winter came, the last of the leaves fell, and I wondered if my tree would survive and come back again. . .much how I felt about myself.
Spring came, as did the end of surgery and radiation. And then I saw it! Tiny little green buds all up and down the branches of my tree! And I knew we had made it together through the worst of storms. Today I see the fulfillment of my hope --- 2 ½ years since treatments ended and all is well. All is well for my tree, too, as those great big green leaves continually dance in the breeze. It’s fall now, and I’m seeing some bronze leaves as they finish their summer life. But they see me sad and call out to me, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

And so I wait yet again and expectantly wait for yet another spring. . .

Joining up with Ann on this “Walk With Him” Wednesday:


Kristin Bridgman said...

Absolutely beautiful!!! You, the story, God, hope, healing. . .I could go on and on and on! Just beautiful!

Eggs In My Pocket said...

This was so wonderful and I also enjoyed your previous post. It made me teary eyed. blessings,Kathleen

Denise said...

Ok..... this one made me cry.. What beauty in your words.... You are the face of hope my friend.. It is stories written like this that cause others to grab hold of hope and hang on...... I was in the car yesterday and listening to my favorite Christan radio and they were talking about hope..... Now I read this..... The Father God gives us glimpse of the hope that HE has given us and you have found it in the beauty of nature... HOPE is powerful.. and it brings faith alive..... we we do not hope then we have nothing to believe God for...... when hope is alive faith is busy.

You are a gift to those that need to understand the power of hope.... HE picked you today to share that..... HE picked you....

dsblanchard said...

Dear Cora,

So many thoughts raced to the surface of my consciousness when I read this, Cora. First, I thought of my tomato plants that I tied up with lavender ribbon this spring because the ribbon was handy. That ribbon held those tomatoes to their stick with all their might. The person who gave me those tomato plants died of a brain tumor this summer. They haven't given me a tomato since the day he died, but the green parts look pretty.

"With a hope that sees what tomorrow looks like." I don't think I was very good at seeing ahead when I was a young woman. I never dreamed about what my children might do as adults or could predict how much any of them would need to accomplish a task. I was to involved in the laundry, the meal preparation and my own interests (I can't even remember what I was interested in now, go figure). I read young mom's blogs now and I know I never thought those thoughts, such visionaries!

One last thing from your comment over at Craig's. I love how all you wanted near you was Buster when you went through chem. There was a very low period in my life when I went and got Shelly. Shelly was a rescue dog. As Danelle says so well, "[Shelly] rescued me from a life without dogs."

Loved this wonderful post,

Trisha said...

Thank you so much for visiting and saying hello!

What a trial you have been through. I am watching my cousin battle multiple myeloma and preparing for her fourth stem cell transplant, and my heart goes out to you as I think about all she goes through.

Beautiful post! Praising God with you for the hope we have in Christ Jesus!

nancy huggins said...

Your post made me think of all the Hope I have experienced and as you know it took 8 sons and a new Husband (now 33 years) and God gave me my Daughter so I know how hope works and sometimes it does take time :)

Merissa said...

so awesome. I love the way that your Sycamore tree was an illustration of hope. and better yet, you are an illustration of hope!!
Thanks for stopping by my blog, Cora.
May God bless you!

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

What an awesome story! Love that analogy!!

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

Lovely post, very inspiring!! Thanks for stopping by, but you didn't get the crab cake recipe from me, I don't like seafood! lol

Lea said...

Cora this little tree suffering along with you brings me to tears as well, but I'm just thankful for that blessed HOPE. I keep thinking back to when I first remember meeting you... and then your cancer journey. We didn't know how things were going to be... but believing, and HOPE... HIS GRACE.... sniff*.... thank you Lord!!! THANKYOU FOR OUR CORA!!!

Debbie said...

What a poignant and relevant point Cora. For some reason, it meant more to me today in the light of things. But then your posts always do. Hope is ongoing, isn't it.

Tammy@Simple Southern Happiness said...

This is a beautiful post and one that gets me to think that stick can be the lord as well. He hold us up during the storms.

GOD sure has seen you through and I pray for more good days for you.

Debra said...

Oh Cora-Hope is one word I really need in my life-I loved your story so much.
I have felt people try to steal my hope, the enemy try to steal it, my own heart just giving in to some kind of despair or unbelief-but then that little word pops its head up in my heart again, and I have HOPE. I have so much to be thankful for-it seems rotten to ever be without hope. But God has given me hope many times in your own blog, and others who visit me and leave comments. I am thankful for blogland. Thankful for you too.
Love, Debra

*Linda Pinda* said...

Just beautiful Cora...
I remember all those conversations from back when you first planted the tree... and the strength of that stick... and the breaking away. And the growth.... and strength...

So much has happened in our lives in these last few years. Fears, courage, loss, new life, suffering, joy, sickness, health... and the only constants; Faith, HOPE, and Love. These shall remain. And mine will forever be mingled with yours, thanks to our good God who knew that a bunch of gals from all over this country would be like mismatched fabric squares in need of being quilted together to become something comforting... beautiful... inseperable.

Love You!!!

Nacole said...

hi Cora,

i enjoyed seeing you and talking with you over at Craig's today!! you are a hoot, woman! i love that you are passionate about life and people you love.

i really enjoyed so much reading this...and it left me with a little tear in my so glad that your tree, and YOU survived! thank God the treasure of you is still here. i have so enjoyed getting to know you--and i mean this when i say this--this blogging community would not be the same without you!

blessings dear sister,


Nacole said...

i also meant to say, thank you for the comments on my blog--i really appreciate them. you encourage me. thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave kind words for me to read.

love and blessings,


Farmhouse Blessings said...

My eyes are filled with tears ~ so beautiful Cora. You're never far from my thoughts.


Farmhouse Blessings said...

My eyes are filled with tears ~ so beautiful Cora. You're never far from my thoughts.