Have you ever heard a parent or teacher saying negative things about a kid? Something like “you can’t do anything right,” or even worse, “how stupid can you be?” People hear what is said to them and it seems as if words are like seeds, they fall on the imaginative and fertile soils of our souls and take root. At least for some of us.
Years ago, someone I knew presented a personal theory that some children succeeded based on being “in favor.” We’ve all seen kids like this. Teachers think the best of them, always give them the benefit of the doubt, dream up special awards and scholarships for them just to proclaim how wonderful the child is. There are also kids who can’t seem to get any attention. And even worse, they are suspected of immoral behavior unjustly, scolded, slapped with detentions and therefore put in the position of continually struggling to have one good day.
I’ve heard many people praise certain teachers or coaches as being the person who changed the course of their studies, and even the path of their lives saying, “she believed in me,” or “he helped me realize I had potential.” These are people who were rescued from a pattern of failure. Books like Children are Wet Cementdiscuss how people can be encouraged and even strengthened by the words spoken to them and about them in their hearing. The Bible describes the importance of blessings being spoken. Words are important to me, and because of all this, I believe in the concept of “blessing.” And this weekend, the idea came again to mind.
In preparing for Hurricane Irene, I went in search of D batteries for our flashlights. Giant didn’t have any, but when I bought the food we needed, the young man who ran the cash register said, “be safe this weekend” as I wheeled my cart away.
Target had not a single D battery, but I took a weird LED flashlight with wavery blue light to the cash register. It was the only one I could find in the entire store. I asked the check-out person about it and she said that she’d found some good, bright flashlights at Office Depot. They came with batteries and were very inexpensive. “Be safe,” she said as I headed toward Office depot.
The flashlights were where the Target employee had described. This saved me time. I took it to the register and when my purchase was complete, again I heard, “Be safe this weekend.”
People I didn’t know wished me well. Neighbors I’d never met spoke a blessing. I’m grateful.
Sometime in the middle of the night as Irene’s winds roared over our house, my neighbors’ tree was uprooted. We heard it crash, felt the thunder of it’s fall and rushed to the windows to see. From upstairs I could see that the silhouette of the trees, so dear and familiar, had changed. “It was the big tulip poplar next door,” I said as we rushed to open our garage door and see.”
Leaves and branches were everywhere and the first thing I noticed was the fresh scent of the trees. Pine and apple and the scent of green, vigorous life met us when the door opened. The tree’s trunk and branches reached all the way down our driveway, stopping just before the junky old car that saw our kids through high school and college.
That enormous tulip poplar could have hit the family room where we’d been sitting shortly before. It could have crashed into on my neighbors’ bedroom, but it didn’t. The tree, 80 feet tall, fell right beside my arbor, missed the beautiful carved, teak bench my husband gave me when I graduated from college. Though our slate patio was a bit tumbled, the clay firepot, which we’d forgotten to take in, was completely unharmed.
The tree did hit the far corner of our garage. So far, we know that it knocked off the down spout and dented the siding and the flashing. But this turns out to be a blessing, too. Evidently if the falling tree hits your house at all, then household insurance pays to have the tree cut up and hauled away. This is great, but not as great as the fact that no one was hurt by its crash.
The tree also demolished two of my apple trees. Anyone who knows me knows how attached I am to my apple trees for whatever unexplainable reason and I confess that tears welled up in my eyes when I realized they were broken. But then I had a cheerful thought—I’ve read, but never experienced, that apple wood makes the most wonderful, fragrant fires in fall and winter! I must confess that I have always wanted to try this, but didn’t have the heart to chop down a living tree just for sensual pleasure. Now I can have a neat stack of apple wood and enjoy the warmth it provides!
My neighbor lost a pine tree, too. It was their very first Christmas tree and it has been growing there ever since, but it has been leaning and we’ve been worrying about it. The pine tree was split in half when the other tree fell on it. The only good thing about this is that we had been talking about landscaping this area between our two yards. Now we can work together to make a beautiful garden. I’m looking forward to working together on this.
As well, my neighbor is stuck with cleaning up the enormous root system, which was wide, but not at all deep. The roots were horizontal, shallow! No wonder the tree was uprooted! They are talking about putting a pond in the hole that the tree has left; this sounds like a beautiful plan to me.
Maybe you experienced the same out-pouring of well-wishes and kindness that I did due to Irene’s coming here. It’s what I love about Annapolis is one of the things that makes this precarious earth feel like home.