I thought today would be the day.
Today should have been the day. I’ve put it off far too long.
I got out the saw. I was already dressed appropriately, having pulled on work clothes as I rolled out of bed this morning.
It wouldn’t be a quick job; that didn’t really matter. I would take off a limb here, another one there. Slow and steady wins the race. That’s what the red-headed lady who raised me would have said.
If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s slow. Steady? Not so much. Still, today was the day.
I extended the pole-saw up far enough to lop off a limb that overhung the fence. Not large enough to damage it when it fell, but enough to see progress had been made.
The branch from the old apple tree smacked the ground harder than I anticipated. This was really happening, wasn’t it? I reached up for another. As I reached, my mind reached back.
I leaned the long pole-saw against the five-foot-tall welded-wire fence. That was all I could do. I needed to sit down. Soon. I wasn’t sure I could even manage the strength to pull the limbs out to the brush pile, next to the little cul-de-sac street in front of the old house.
I got them out there, but the weight on my chest just wouldn’t go away.
I went inside and sat down, angry at myself. This was stupid. It should have been a simple job. Cut down the old shrunken and split apple tree. How difficult could it be?
History has weight. It does. It comes with an onus, an obligation.
I’ve just never felt it quite that heavy before. Oh, living in this world for over sixty years has taught me the lesson a little. But, the last few years are schooling me in that particular chapter more than I ever wanted.
I thought I was ready. As much as anything, that old tree signifies my memories of a family whose life has been tied up in this little patch of land and this old house from its first days. The Lovely Lady grew up playing near it and others, now long cut down. For more than half a century, the changing seasons have brought forth desserts and side-dishes worth remembering from the tree.
But, the tree has reached the end of its life. I’ve written about it here before — the twisting of the storm winds that opened the huge split, now held up by a two-by-four and a couple of plumber’s straps — and the shearing off of the largest part of the tree this last spring as another weather front blew through.
We would gather one last crop, having one last season to enjoy the applesauce and an apple pie or two — perhaps even a big pan of apple crisp drowned in heavy whipping cream. Then the tree, having lived a full life, would come down to be replaced by new ones planted in and near its footprint.
The last crop never came, the little green apples that promised so expectantly last spring disappearing before ever one came to the table. Barren. The tree is done. It will have to come down.
But, the unkept promise of one more crop rankles. Unfinished business. What if — what if we tried to keep it alive just one more cycle, one more time through the process the Creator programmed into its DNA?
I need more time. The weight of that final act is too heavy for me today.
Maybe next week. Or next year.
It’s silly, isn’t it? A tree. It’s only a tree.
The heart is so foolish. And, so fickle.
The weight of the past seems a very real thing, slowing us down, keeping us hoping against hope, even convincing us that tomorrow will work better than today.
The apostle (my namesake) stood before the Roman governor and told him his future if he didn’t turn around. Felix listened and, with the weight of his situation on him, told Paul he would consider it at a more convenient time. (Acts 24:25)
There will be no more convenient time.
That’s what we have.
In my many years as confessor to quite a number of folks (for some reason, the counter at our music store seemed a comfortable place for the rite, with both stranger and friend, young and old participating), I can’t count the number of people who wanted yesterday back.
From the man who told me on the day of his grandmother’s funeral of refusing to return one last phone call to her, to the boy who needed another shot at demonstrating his love for an absent girlfriend, they all wanted to live that particular today over again.
Today has an expiration date. It’s today.
[bctt tweet=”Today has an expiration date. It’s today.” username=”hestakenleave”]
The opportunities forfeited — the doorways passed by — all come back with a history and a weight all their own.
You see, we make history with every action and every inaction, every word spoken and every one left unsaid.
History has weight. Somehow, time seems to make it heavier.
It’s time to lighten our loads.
Jesus promised a lighter burden if we’d come to Him. The offer still stands. (Matthew 11:28–29)
The weight of our history need not overwhelm nor cripple us.
We’ve all got
enough apple trees to grapple with in our lives without adding to that weight.
Do it today. Today.
There’ll be apple pie again.
Shall we never get rid of this Past? . . . It lies upon the Present like a giant’s dead body. (from The House of the Seven Gables ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne ~ American author ~ 1804–1864)
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, Take it to the Lord in Prayer. (from What a Friend We Have in Jesus ~ Lyrics by Joseph Scriven ~ Public Domain)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2018. All Rights Reserved.