What I Can’t Control

Two things.

Today my mother is having a minor surgical procedure on her spine, to attempt to relieve the chronic pain in her legs. I know she is both hopeful and nervous. Surgery is certainly an experience of giving up control. I am praying for her and my dad — to be relieved of their anxiety — and for the medical personnel — to be skillful and compassionate.

As I was praying this morning, I realized there was commotion outside my study window. Some heavy equipment and a crew had arrived. They appeared to be preparing to work on the large maple tree that shelters my study window. This is my neighbor’s tree. Limbs and branches have been trimmed in the past. Each time, I’ve been so grateful the tree didn’t have to come down. I’ve often thought how much I would miss it. I spend a lot of time by this window.

Just this morning I looked out at the tree and noticed a young robin with its fluffy feathered breast, and a nearby parent robin. The robin family lives in the Leland pines behind the house, and I often see them in this maple tree. The parent and child together made me think about youth and age. Perhaps that’s because my mother is elderly, and I’m concerned for her health today.

IMG_0695I just went down and talked to the tree guys. Sure enough, this time the whole tree is coming down. The neighbor says the roots are hurting the foundation. When the tree guy told me this, tears came out of my eyes and I put my hands on top of my head and pulled on my hair. I did these things without meaning to.

Silly to grieve for a tree, perhaps. But I do. And I must face that I can’t control some important things. Certain losses are inescapable.

Now I’m praying that the tree guys are okay. This is dangerous work.

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I'm an essayist, memoirist, and Presbyterian pastor. My books are both spiritual memoirs -- "Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land" and "Ruined."