Stories to tell

Neptune Park, St. Simon’s Island

If that tree could talk, I’m sure it could share plenty of stories–both good and bad. Just a look at the unusual beauty of the aging process the tree has experienced brings to mind a plethora of possible scenarios it has lived through in its existence here on mother earth.

The tree shares a unique and special story with me, and indeed, it is representative of me in some ways. We are gnarly and rustic. We are aged and weather beaten. Our old wounds are there for all to see. And we are firmly grounded as we continue to stand the test of time.

I first spotted this old jewel of Neptune Park a few years ago when I journeyed to Saint Simon’s Island off the coast of Georgia to visit my life long friend. We each shared the sadness that this particular visit would be our last one. Cancer had done its business with my friend over a five year period of time, and there was nothing else for him to do except pass the time while waiting to die. Stage 4 cancer in the brain will do that.

During the time I was visiting my friend, we slow walked to the park multiple times where we sat on park benches and simply experienced the present with each other. We were surrounded by trees very similar to the one shown, and just like the two old gentlemen (my friend and I) sitting on the park bench–though old and worn, they too were each simply present to the moment.

When a friendship spans over six decades, there aren’t too many things one doesn’t know about the other. And when that friendship is about to end because death has stepped in, fear, hesitation, and doubt cease to be factors in the conversations. The matter of mortality takes on a whole new meaning, as does love. In those moments, memories don’t have the same impact–they have been lived and re-lived many times before. What does have impact is the quiet moments, together, living love in that small bubble of time. We spent hours often just simply “being”. Who cared what it looked like–two old men sitting on a park bench holding hands or with arms locked over shoulders affirming their love for each other? Or two ancients standing in front of a much larger ancient (tree), one sharing the love of Jesus with the other?

I had gone to Saint Simon’s Island sad and anxious. Perhaps my friend was as well. I wasn’t sure what I should say or shouldn’t say, do or shouldn’t do. I just knew, as did my friend, that I had to be there for a period of time so we could spend some time just being. I think we each instinctively knew that we would know when our business together was finished.

I left the Island still sad because we each knew as we hugged and man-kissed that there would be no more face to face visits. We knew that his time was close. We knew that that tree in Neptune Park had yet another story to share if it could talk.

I also left the Island with a sense of joy and calm, because my friend was joyful and calm. He knew that this visit between us was our last earthly visit and that we would enjoy eternity together just being….just as we were on the park bench by the old tree.

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