‘Could those vines kill that tree?’
Paddling down the Buffalo River, my son and I had broken rank from Dad and the girls to explore closer to the shoreline, maybe catch a glimpse of a snake or two.
We leaned our wet heads way back on our necks to take in the full scope of a mighty oak head and shoulders above the rest. Alongside this huge beauty were two, maybe three, substantial vines thicker than the thickest ropes flourishing right up alongside it.
Starting from an unknown source near the root system, the vines grew in what my eyes would call a near-perfect line up all the way to the top where they then seemed to disappear.
Only they didn’t disappear.
They simply changed course and began wrapping around the neck of this poor, beautiful tree.
They were going for the throat.
The once-perfect trunk of this majestic beast had begun to cave and squeeze in as it grew now accommodating the vine in places. It gave these once weak and needy vines a warm place to thrive.
It even shared in the feeding by giving away its own good source of food.
This giant being was learning to live with the vines that would eventually kill it.
The things I know about vines seem to be the very things I know about lies:
what starts out as a subtlety so whisper-quiet you barely know is there can eventually take us down in a death-squeeze that leaves us soul-withered and flat-lined.
Maybe it’s a lie we were told.
We are born as lumps of clay molded by very human hands.
Some hands more human than others.
Perhaps we learned how to please and to be very good girls and excellent boys to avoid the soul crush of causing others disappointment. Or maybe we were told we were only as valuable as a tool in a box needed for particular tasks. And many times? We weren’t enough to even stick around for.
Maybe we planted a few of these lies ourselves.
Sometimes we just go on and fill in the blanks scribbled by very human hands, don’t we?
Based on the way we’re treated we figure for ourselves
because of what we did we don’t deserve
we aren’t enough
we’re too much
I’m not worth
she got more than me
you’re too different
But let’s don’t forget:
these stories are never one-sided.
As a race of people with the common blood of broken, we plant, water, and heartily nourish vines for others, too.
At any rate, these things are liable to strangle a person right to their death.
Looking again through the tree all the way down to life, I wondered now why didn’t that giant oak reach down and pluck the vines out, throw them out in the river and say, ‘No more. Not here. Not today. Not ever.’
It certainly had the ability to do so, you know.
I had gotten lost again in the things under the things and hearing my son’s voice calling me back to the surface, I answered, ‘Yep. They sure could kill it.’
‘That’s crazy, isn’t it? That something so small can take down something that big?’
I imagine my boy is talking about the lies this time and I tell him, ‘It sure is, Son. Just plain slap-crazy.’