I am slowly emerging from under my broom tree.
Truthfully, they don’t grow in the middle of suburban Illinois so the broom trees in my yard resemble Oak trees. However, metaphorically speaking, they served the same purpose for me: a place to crash in exhaustion from the overwhelming emotions pouring through my veins.
I found myself resonating with Elijah. (1 Kings 18) He felt the sting of brokenness. A fracture grew in his community, a group that shared a common identity. They were God’s people. That doesn’t equate to blind unity. But it meant commitment to working out together what that looked like in earthly life. Because this is where they lived. Not in a “spiritual place.” A physical place where God descended and intended to restore all things to the “very good” he declared.
But rather than place themselves in the messy human experience of listening and humility, they lunged toward pride and power. Community ripped apart. Relationships became defined by a zest for communal powers, control, and oppression-including those in their own community. They detoured from their purpose and identity. The noise and the polarization overwhelmed him. In addition, his life was threatened. Elijah wanted to escape.
So last week I resonated with his story. Sometimes the noise is too much. We are already thirsty from living in a world that is aching toward complete satiation with the life giving resources God is seeking to offer us. But when we are parched, the trust wanes. And like Elijah, I needed to seek refuge in something other than humanity. So I found refuge in other life giving members of creation. Because they remind me that God is still working and breathing life into a broken world.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist, professor, and member of the Potowami Nation, writes, “In some Native languages, the term for plants translates to “those who take care of us.”
I am thankful for the comfort of the trees who have always beckoned us to their presence. We just needed to recognize their sacred purpose. God meets us there.