Yellow Tree

By Meredith Whiteley

It rained this spring.  Not the “just enough to mess up the windows” kind of rain we often get here in the desert.  This was the rare kind that came to stay awhile, pattering for a day or two, flowing down the streets, filling washes, bringing healing to my parched lungs.  This kind of rain always takes me back to rain-soaked days curled up with a good book, chocolate chip cookies, the smell of earth coming alive.

The desert has its own rain protocol.  Each element seems to know when the real thing arrives.  Seeds lying dormant for years hurry to do their job.  Wildflowers bloom and the barren hill behind my house is transformed for a week, maybe two.

Normally this jubilee of color and life sets my heart soaring as I watch the hill during my early morning quiet time.  Times past, I was open to those messages of beauty and hope.  But this year is different.  I am cold, dull.  No number of flowers or almost Ireland-green grass will set me free.

I’ve been on this Christian journey a while.  I know the drill.  “Hang in there during the dark nights,” the pundits say. “Keep reading your Bible.”, “Keep praying.”

So, I do.

I hurt my grown daughter ~ again.  She forgives me, but outburst of selfishness I thought I was conquering opened my old wound of failure and defeat.  The tempter is winning.  Like an addict, I slip back into the guilt so easily.  Does the Lord forgive if I can’t forgive myself?  Am I the debtor/trespasser in the Lord’s Prayer?

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

I am still cold.

The hill outside my window is desert beige again, rain forgotten for another few years.  I stare at it a long time before I see the single Palo Verde high up toward the top.  It’s not just yellow, it is ablaze with YELLOW.  It screams “Felicity,” the yellow name I gave my daughter.  I needed to start a new chapter when she was born, to be happy with Felicity after my husband of three years left in the early days of my pregnancy.  Mary O’Neil, in her beautiful celebration of color, Hailstone’s and Halibut Bones, told me “Felicity is a Yellow name.”  My girl is bright yellow for so many.

There are many Palo Verde trees on the hill, but only one is in bloom.  It doesn’t take much on my part to figure out why.  I am sure the Lord was present those mornings I sat cold and guilt-ridden.  Perhaps He was purposefully silent for a while, or He spoke and I wasn’t listening.  Whichever way it was, the blazing yellow tree says His forgiveness is big enough to include my forgiveness of myself.

The message was there all the while.  The yellow tree makes it mine.





About the Author:
I have lived in the desert all my life.  It’s taken time for me to see its beauty while I long for green forests and the riot of fall colors.  I became a Christian at a Christian coffee house during the heady days of 1968, but I have been slow to perfecting the fruits of the spirit.  I was a university researcher and policy analyst for many years until I retired early and started researching and writing on my own.  I have a mostly great husband, one daughter, seven grandchildren (four of them steps), and the Lord. Not in that order.




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