A dead tree destroyed my house

Being a Rotarian means above all else a belief in “service above self.” While quasi-religious in sentiment, in practice it means volunteering.

This year I am a volunteer judge for the Laws of Life writing competition. High schoolers submit essays about their lives and a group of random adults read and judge them on the merits of how they make us feel and what they make us think.

One essay talked about prepping for the tornadoes that would eventually rip apart southwest Georgia. The teenage writer was indifferent to parental guidance the morning of the event to wear a rain jacket that day. The story ends with a house destroyed by winds knocking a dead tree down into their house, destroying it fully. They wind up in a hotel and the community beautifully responds with food and other supports. The writer focuses on how this is the heart of a home – belonging.

Now in a hotel room filled with community support, home is no longer the four walls of a house but the love of a community. Beautiful insight for a high schooler to articulate; the real insight was the line “who knew a dead tree could change life so drastically?”

It is Lent. There are dead trees all around us right now. Winter is not giving up his grip just yet. What dead trees are looming, ready to drop? What are we ignoring?

A dead tree is forgotten until it splays the home it once sheltered. We must be constant gardeners. Never too quick with the scythe, but on watch. Take note: the branches fall first, usually when there is no wind.


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