Last week, I was fortunate enough to teach a class on creative writing at The Worship Arts Academy held at Centerpoint Church in Southern California. A group of students arrived and we went through a short lecture on having authority over our stories, and then we did an exercise: using Marcy Rossi’s piece entitled The Wall (which you can read here), we all wrote our own stories using an inanimate object as a metaphor. Only a few students felt confident enough to share – understandable, since this kind of writing can be intensely personal – but everyone wrote with a ferocity of purpose that inspired me. I sat down and wrote my own piece, and I’d like to share it with you here. (Disclaimer: I bent the rules, since a tree is technically not an inanimate object. *shrug*)
Seed & Soil
At first, I thought I was the giving tree. Grown to shield and nurture with no thought to whether or not I could get back the bits of me that I gave away. As I cut away my fruit and branches, I dropped a seed to the ground, and didn’t think of it again.
When the fire came, it razed my world to the ground. I hadn’t looked at myself for a long time. I didn’t even realize I had reduced myself to a stump. But the fire burned me away, down to the dirt.
All that remained were the roots…and beside them, the seed that I had dropped. That I now inhabited. That was all that was left of me. A small, dark, quiet space: grief. It was cramped, but it was safe, and I knew I had time to spend there. I unfurled slowly, as if in a womb, pushing against the boundaries of myself, the edges of the darkness, then pushed up through the ashes of the things that had threatened to suffocate and destroy me. All the things I had loved.
At first, when I found the light, I thought I was something new, a daffodil, a wildflower, a poppy, rooted in the wild dirt instead of a tended garden. I was beautiful again, and blooming…but whenever the wind shook me, it felt more like delicate and less like dance. That, I did not like. That, I could not have.
So while I reached for the sun, I pushed further into the soil, seeking…until I struck the roots of the stump I had been.
At first, I recoiled in horror. Darkness was one thing; I could be nurtured by lightless soil. But the corpse of the thing I had been was something else. Poison, I thought, wreckage.
And then, I heard a quiet voice in the wind. The voice of my Father. And He whispered, “You are no daffodil. I have always meant for you to be a tree.”
And so I twined the living roots of me around the old, dead, ground branches, forged new paths into the darkness and reached skyward. I met myself, and grew, and grew again.
“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
This month, I’m praying for the fruit we bear to be multiplied a hundred times.