The Whole Story

Author: Amy Ostwald


You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.

You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me

with joy, that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.

Oh Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!

PSALM 30:11-12


We have a struggling little maple tree in our backyard that keeps getting clobbered either by human error or weather events. It had just started looking like a healthy, normal tree when seven inches of heavy spring snow fell upon its branches. The little tree survived, but once again it looks very odd.


I imagine that this little maple tree will someday be an old maple tree—a very weird-looking old maple tree. In a future conversation with a young apple sapling nearby, the tree might reminisce about the traumatic May ‘22 snow storm, explaining that its branches had already leafed out fully when the wet snow fell and that during the night several of its branches had broken under the weight.


But that wasn’t the end of the story, the old maple tree might say. The next day, just when it could no longer bear the weight and the pain and the cold, a human came out with a broom to knock some of the snow loose. Then the sun began to shine and warm its limbs. Slowly the remaining snow on its leaves melted and dripped off, allowing its bent-over branches to rise up off the ground.


This explains, perhaps the tree would say, why it looks a little different from the majestic maple trees on Mapleton Avenue. This explains why it gets a little nervous every year in the spring when leaf buds first form— why it needs a little coaxing and tenderness during this time. But it also explains why the tree takes strength from the sun and celebrates its appearance.

What a gift this maple tree’s story would be for its apple sapling friend; as people of the Judeo-Christian faith, we know that we are strengthened by hearing stories of struggle and recovery. I have recently observed, though, that while we humans often share the difficult parts of our lives with great detail— we sometimes neglect to share about how we recovered. This is unfortunate.


The next time a friend shares a story about a wound from his or her past, I plan to ask: How did you ever move forward after that? What helped? What saved you? And the next time a difficult memory from my own past surfaces, I will ask myself these same questions.



Loving God, As memories of painful events arise in our thoughts and conversations, help us to also call forth memories of healing and experiences of grace. May we live with greater hope and faith. AMEN

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