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A. Ray Lee ss

After the storm

By A. Ray Lee

One spring morning I eased out the back door with my coffee to the patio. Slowly, but confidently, I walked down a handicap ramp built before Effie completely lost her mobility.

A storm had swept through during the night, but now a clear day had dawned.

I sat looking down a stately row of cedar trees that had sprung up along an old fence row. Their trunks stood straight and tall. Scars on their trunks revealed they had withstood numerous winds in the past.

Young pines glistened as the sun reached the rain drops lingering on their needles. Broken branches littered the straw below. The damage was unsightly, but in due time, new growth would cover the places where limbs had broken from the trunk.

A resident doe with her fawn would soon slip once again among them at twilight and stand like a statue while cupping her ears and twitching her nose as she cast a wary eye toward the house.

As I surveyed the damage, birds began to stir. A blue jay settled in a nearby pecan tree and squawked in a proprietary tone at a pesky squirrel sifting through leaves and empty shells for an unclaimed nut. The notes of a mockingbird’s song rang out as she trilled a plagiarized tune.

Nature had weathered the storm and was already recovering from its effects.

As I sipped my coffee, scenes from the past flashed across my mind.

I had lived through an intense personal storm. Its effects lingered. I was still recovering from the painful journey with the love of my life as we had struggled with her dementia.

With her death, darkness had descended upon my spirit. Recovery had been slow. But eventually the warmth from the sunshine of God’s presence and love had penetrated the clouds of grief engulfing me, and healing had begun.

As I basked in the warmth of the morning sun, thoughts of my schedule for the week came to mind. There was a final service for a deceased friend to be prepared. Unfinished stories remained to be completed. I picked up the empty cup and turned to go inside.

My eyes no longer turned automatically to the window where I had looked in on Effie so many times in the past. Instead, they had inadvertently turned toward a tulip tree with buds ready to burst open.

The tree had begun as a cutting rooted many years ago from one that adorned the yard of a long-deserted home site. The old tree had endured droughts, a tornado and neglect by those who had enjoyed the beauty of its blossoms. Eventually it had succumbed to the ravages of age, but now its sap continues to flow in renewed vigor.

I had come through a great storm. Like the old cedars, I will forever bear the scars of it, but faith had withstood the adversarial winds accompanying the darkness and, in due time, healing would come.

By God’s grace the ministry Effie and I had shared would not end, but her influence would continue to bloom like the tulip tree and bring hope to others.

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