Letting in the Light

foggy 030

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Rumi

Near the fence there are some huge chunks of wood… slices salvaged from the old horse chestnut tree that used to hold my home and garden within its embrace. I loved that tree and watched the seasons change in its leaves; watched the squirrels play and the birds nest there… even writing about it. I felt the life in it, felt its character and history and so I was heartbroken when it had to be taken down.

Leaf mining moths had infested the bole and the sick tree was inspected and found to be rotting away from the inside. It was dying and was no longer deemed safe to hang its limbs over my home. When the massacre by chainsaw was complete we brought three pieces of wood back into the garden to make a little seat.

The seat was dismantled by scaffolders a little while ago and I have yet to reassemble it, but the girth of the branches and the three foot long slice of trunk remain close to the door. I noticed the beauty of the frosted mosses and fungi growing on them when I took the camera out this morning. The frost was heavy and the world wrapped in fog; everything white and the sky invisible until the sun broke through. The camera was a vain attempt to capture the mood and the beauty of the ice crystals that dusted the tousled remains of the day.

wood with fungus

There had been little sun in the garden, of course, when the tree was there. The ground had been hard and dry and it was difficult to get anything to grow beneath the spreading branches. Between the sticky sheaths of the new bud covering absolutely everything, to the petals that fell like snow… followed by the bombardment of spiny conkers and tons of leaves, the tree had definitely made its presence felt. Not always in a positive manner, looking back. In fact, when the roots began to disrupt the ground we were facing the possibility of major structural problems.

None of that mattered though, not to me. I simply loved the thing and wept when its demise left a great empty hole in my skyline…

fungus on tree

… through which I now watch the stars and the dawn, for of course, the light streamed in. Rain softened the earth and my garden blossomed, bursting with exuberant colour that drew butterflies, birds and bees and all manner of small creatures. From the salvaged wood, new life sprang and insects made their home in the bark. In the corner of the garden… and in several places in the wood down the lane where I transplanted them… new horse chestnuts are growing from the conkers that fell and buried their roots in the earth. The life of the tree continues.

The foundations of my home are now safe too.

wood and stone

I still miss those first signs of spring in its buds. As summer draws near I miss the masses of blossom that carried me back to the boulevards of Paris. I miss the shade of its canopy and the stark black and white of its winter nakedness. I have conveniently forgotten, it seems, all the negatives and can look back solely on the joys.

frosted leaves and moss

This tree was always a metaphor for life and today it continues to serve thus. We often cling to things that are familiar and which may indeed hold elements of beauty or affection for us, yet which we know, deep down, are potentially or actually harmful. We hold them dear in their familiarity, because they are known, because they form part of the very structure of the life within which we have defined ourselves. Their roots may go so deep that we fear their loss and the ensuing changes to our personal landscape. Even when we can clearly see the potential benefits of their removal from the garden of our lives.

Making that hole in the skyline can be a big step, yet it is only by clearing away the dead wood that we can let the light in, and with it the elements of new growth that may germinate and flower, even in the scraps that remain. What we choose to cut out of our lives in such a way may have held good as well as bad; the good is never lost, but is the seed that will bear fruit… and it is already part of us.

59 thoughts on “Letting in the Light

  1. life takes unexpected shapes as everyone knows. How would you put a conundrum like this together; the gift of words and the power of change within, from the perspective of a small child, how would you deal with it. cheers to the health and all yours amen

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  2. Have been checking for posts from you. And was so happy to see this pop up. We had to cut down a tree in our old house and tears were shed. Trees each have personalities and they express themselves and talk to one another and feel our feelings. Really happy to see you here, Sue.❤

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  3. Sue – I was praying to receive a response from you for my comment on the other blog of yours and when I checked that as the first thing in the morning, I was overjoyed. Now when I this post and the wholesome positivity behind it – my happines grew leaps and bounds. Thank you for brightening our day. Sending lots of blessings..

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  4. Thank you for another wonderful blog. Your last sentence is a terrific metaphor for what I am going through in life right now.

    “What we choose to cut out of our lives in such a way may have held good as well as bad; the good is never lost, but is the seed that will bear fruit… and it is already part of us.”

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  5. Of course you’re right, not everything can be left to grow as it likes, but your sadness at losing the tree is right too. We have a lot of trees to ‘look after’ and my reaction is always to just let them all grow. Husband though points out that to let them ‘grow’ you have to cut out some of the rampant growers, the ones that get in first and thickest and smother the rest. It’s such a shame that the plum trees fall into that category, but pretty blossom isn’t enough to save them.

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          1. I see hardly any these days. Last year everybody (who isn’t a chasseur) agreed there were fewer animals around and this year it’s the same. When they’ve killed everything I suppose they’ll start on the cats and stray dogs…

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                    1. I wonder about evolution sometimes. Was there a ‘right’ time to stop evolving when we were as we ought to be? Did the process not stop when it should have done? We’re certainly incapable of living in the world, even the one we’ve created, alone, without a billion other people helping.

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  6. Beautifully expressed (and illustrated!). I wish I had your ability to see the wider picture and to find the good in things that seem irredeemably devastating. ❤

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  7. I can well relate. There’s one large stump, in particular, that I visit. From a large maple we took down years ago for similar reasons. It is now a part of a flower/fairy garden. Upon it I have placed an old bird house my grandfather made and I like to watch how nature takes over. And, of course, image the fairies using it as a home. 🌿🧚🏻

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  8. I have some bare root trees (only about one metre high) waiting to go into their home, which is currently waterlogged. They like wet spaces, but not to start with.
    I have also just been weighing up the chances of planting a tree and fantraining it against next door’s garage. Eventually, I’ve come down to choice between quince or apricot.
    It may eventually be down to which one is likely to fruit first… they’ll both need a few years.
    But your garden sounds wonderful, with or without the big chestnut. I’m glad you kept some of it for us.
    Then again, the reason I started out telling you about the new trees is because the guelder rose is just bursting its leaf buds….it needs to go in soon!
    Brain scramble.

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  9. Like so many others, I look first for a post from you and smile when I see you are still here.
    You are so right about the tree. It was a pity it had to go, but its life was over; its job done. Now new light and new thoughts can stream in where it left a hole.
    I think our lives are much the same. When they are over, they leave a hole in the lives of those we leave behind, but hopefully our lives will have touched others and they can now see more because of us and what we taught them. This is especially true of you, Sue. You have touched so many lives for the better.

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  10. This is a wonderful post Sue, and equally wonderful that new growth comes from the old.
    We wonder if our two bottles are still embedded in the roots of the huge elm we ‘adopted’ all those years ago in the New Forest. It was a special place where we would go for the peace and solitude as it was a good mile from the car park, off the beaten track, and passed by very few. We shared it once, but they did not see what we did, did not appreciate the significance and how we not only treasured it, but honoured it. It was never cold to touch, even if the coldest months,
    We said as long as it stood, we would be together, as it had taken the knocks and brunt of life, and still stood tall.
    Lovely.

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  11. I have trees close to my house, yet it’s recommended they be cut down to allay fire danger. But I can’t and I won’t. I protect them as they stand with me. Their small bits of growth each year are things to celebrate. We keep each other alive. Thanks for your reflection.

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  12. We had a terrible fire about twenty years ago, Sue, and what was most devastating for me was the loss of our eldest magnificent trees. I replanted, but those new trees would never really be for me. They are for my great great great grandchildren to enjoy. And I do love how your tree eventually became something new as well as created space for something new. So many lessons in nature, as always.

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  13. I also wrote a blog about a tree we had to have taken down. I cried. But my words were nowhere near as eloquent as yours. The tree had the last laugh – its roots ran deep and two new trees sprang up from them!

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  14. A lovely post, Sue. Since I have been working from home, I have been able to spend a little more time in the garden and I have also been noticing a lot of small things like spider nests and fungi. Nature is a wonderful thing but we do sometimes have to remove things, even if we love them, to make space for growth.

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