I’ve been thinking about this tree for months. The first time I saw it I was shocked and horrified, and yet, I found something beautiful and inspiring about it as well. It has part of a barbed wire fence running right through the middle of its trunk.
There’s a spot on one side of a pond that I like to walk around where there is a barbed wire fence. The trees that grow along it remind me of the Ents who go to war against Isengard and the machine of industry, marching on the front lines to their “doom”. There is even one tree that seems to have actually broken part of the barbed wire, but still has it hanging out the other side.
For a long time I thought about the way that barb entered right into the heart of that tree: slowly, dully, imperceptibly. And then one day it’s just there, it’s part of the tree. Like so many of the wounds that we carry around, they’re just there, and we wonder in vain where they came from.
I wanted so badly for those trees to be whole. I had the urge to yank that barbed wire right out, to tug at it with all my might. In my frenzy, I could imagine even chiseling at the tree itself, performing a sort of hack-job surgery.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized that any effort to relieve the tree of those barbs would surely kill it. It had learned to grow around and live with the barbs that had intruded on its life. And it still sprouted branches and leaves and for all the world was still doing exactly what it should, still able to be a tree in all its tree-ness.
(My friend Erin and I paid a visit to these trees the other day. For another perspective – and a profound one at that – read her blog post here.)