On October 19th, 2013, my Beloved and I went to the pavilion where 28 families gathered to honor loved ones through planting trees. The Christi Center, in Austin, Texas plants a tree grove annually to honor our family members that we are grieving. Before we went to the tree grove to see our trees, several family members spoke. I found out that the symbol of the Christi Center that they use with the bereaved is the zebra! You see, grieving is a lot like being a zebra in a herd of horses. Your stripes set you apart and make you different now, but everyone still expects you to act like a horse. The Christi Center is a safe place… to “show your stripes” and be with other zebras who understand. To honor your loved ones, the Christi Center plants trees annually and on October 19, 2013, they planted 28 trees. The types of trees and numbers that were planted are:
- Red Oak: 1
- Chinquapin Oak: 1
- Crepe Myrtle: 3
- Live Oak: 6
- Cedar Elm: 6
- Monterey Oak: 6
- Bur Oak: 6
I couldn’t wait to see what kind of tree was selected for my daughter and grandsons! When I opened the memorial packet, I found that they had selected a Bur Oak to honor Elizabeth and the boys. I had seen Bur Oaks before, but I didn’t know that much about them. As I researched the Quercus macrocarpa a.k.a. the “Bur Oak” I found it was a perfect tree for them! First, Bur Oaks are large! Growing up to 100 feet and has one of the most massive oak trunks with diameters of up to 10 feet. Bur Oaks commonly live to be 200-300 years old! The bark is a medium gray and somewhat rugged. I love that adjective……..”somewhat rugged”. The leaves are large and the acorns are very large. The Bur Oak is a great tree here in Texas. Our hot and dry weather here is not a problem for these oaks. They can grow 18-24 inches and can grow as much as 3 feet a year. Reading about the Bur Oak, I thought it was a PERFECT representation of Elizabeth, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes. It is a quick growing oak tree……just like 3 little boys! The bark is rugged…….just like 3 little boys that were growing up to be courageous young men! An oak has deep roots……just like my daughter. She always knew who she was in her own skin…..even as a young girl. Because of that, she was resilient. She knew what kind of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend she wanted to be. She wasn’t perfect……but she was amazing none the less. The Bur Oak is large…..taking in all that the world will provide. Elizabeth was a lot like that too…..remember her bracelet? LIVE BIG? How great is that is a tree is going to grow big just like she lived her life. Bur Oaks become a great shade tree in the hot months in Texas. I love this quality of the tree…..providing respite to those taking a moment at the base of the tree……My daughter and grandsons legacy providing shade and protection. And lastly, the Bur Oak is long living…..they can live up to 200-300 years! And even though that is a long time…..my daughter and grandsons live forever with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and I will be with them one day! AMEN!
The Christi Center also placed a beautiful monument in the tree grove to honor the families, their loved ones and to dedicate the tree grove. It is a place in this world that testifies to the life of our loved one’s and the special meaning to those of us that grieve their temporary absence from us.
I had the pleasure of going to watch Tyler Perry live on stage in Connecticut for one of his Madea plays. Madea (aka Tyler Perry) gave a “tree analogy” that I thought was appropriate for this post.
“I have this tree analogy when I think of people in my life, be it friends, family, acquaintances, employees, co-workers, whomever…They are all placed inside what I call my tree test. It goes like this:
LEAF PEOPLE Some people come into your life and they are like leaves on a tree. They are only there for a season. You can’t depend on them or count on them because they are weak and only there to give you shade. Like leaves, they are there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in your life they are gone. You can’t be angry at them, it’s just who they are.
BRANCH PEOPLE There are some people who come into your life and they are like branches on a tree. They are stronger than leaves, but you have to be careful with them. They will stick around through most seasons, but if you go through a storm or two in your life it’s possible that you could lose them. Most times they break away when it’s tough. Although they are stronger than leaves, you have to test them out before you run out there and put all your weight on them. In most cases they can’t handle too much weight. But again, you can’t be mad with them, it’s just who they are.
ROOT PEOPLE If you can find some people in your life who are like the roots of a tree then you have found something special. Like the roots of a tree, they are hard to find because they are not trying to be seen. Their only job is to hold you up and help you live a strong and healthy life. If you thrive, they are happy. They stay low key and don’t let the world know that they are there. And if you go through an awful storm they will hold you up. Their job is to hold you up, come what may, and to nourish you, feed you and water you.
Just as a tree has many limbs and many leaves, there are few roots. Look at your own life. How many leaves, branches and roots do you have? What are you in other people’s lives? THANK GOD FOR YOUR ROOTS! You may want to call them today or share this message with them and attach your own note saying, “thanks for being my root”.” – Tyler Perry
My hope and prayer is that God will continue to use Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes as roots for others that knew them. I know they are for me. Their roots much like their Bur Oak tree will grow deep…..their legacy will be watered, fed and tended by those that love them. They are reminders about what’s important and what’s not…….don’t sweat the small stuff…..and it’s all small stuff! My daughter and grandsons roots have taught me about God, his promises, my faith, his grace and his mercy. Just like their tree, may my roots in my Lord and my “root people” also continue to grow. When the branches need to be pruned to continue that growth, may I rest in the faith of that pruning.
I look forward to resting under a large bur oak one day…..reading scripture, having a picnic and enjoying time with those “roots” in my life. If you would ever like to visit this special place, please let me know and I would love to show you and share that moment. Here are some pictures of their tree and some of my deep roots!
To God be the glory and be sure and thank your “roots”!